General English

  • noun a copy of a document or picture sent to someone using telephone lines
  • verb to send a document or picture by telephone
  • noun a fax; a copy of a document or picture sent by telephone


  • noun a system for sending the exact copy of a document via telephone lines


  • noun an exact copy of a document, drawing, etc., transmitted and received by a fax machine connected to a telephone link
  • noun an electronic apparatus linked to a telephone used to send and receive a fax


  • noun a document sent by this method
  • noun a machine for sending or receiving faxes


  • noun a method of sending and receiving images in digital form over a telephone or radio link
  • verb to send a message by fax


  • A method of transmitting a printed page between locations, via a telecommunications system. A telephone line is usually used. The document is scanned at the sending location, encoded, and transmitted by the sending device. The receiving device decodes the signal, then prints a copy of the original document, which may include text, graphics, and so on. Computers may also serve to transmit and/or receive such documents, without the need for hard copy at either end.
  • One or more printed pages sent or received via fax (1).
  • synonymfacsimile

Information & Library Science

  • noun an exact copy of a document sent electronically to a distant receiver using the telephone network
  • noun an exact copy of an original

Origin & History of “fax”

Fax is a sleeper of a word. The technology of facsimile telegraphy, by which a document is scanned and its image transmitted via a telegraphic link, had been around since the 1870s, but the word fax was not invented for it (in the USA, by the simple expedient of removing the end of facsimile) until the 1940s. even then, faxes were not widely known about outside the world of commerce, and it was only in the 1970s that the technology, and with it the word (by now a verb as well as a noun), became an everyday phenomenon. Facsimile (17th c.), incidentally, is simply a lexicalization of Latin fac simile ‘make similar’.