Word: facsimile

Pronunciation: fak-SI-mə-lee

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: an exact copy, especially of written or printed material

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Robin: Oh, cute dog!

Arthur: No! Tugboat, my other dog, that was a cute dog. This little disappointment is nothing but a cheap facsimile.

How I Met Your Mother (Season 6, Episode 23 – Landmarks)

How about another unusual word for your list? This week’s vocabulary word is one that I remember hearing only twice in my whole life: once in the indie sci-fi game Transistor and once in the above scene from How I Met Your Mother. I probably should have been familiar with it long ago, though; as I only just learned, I used to hear the abbreviated form of the word all the time: “fax”! To be honest, I feel a little silly for not realizing “fax” was an abbreviation all along, but at least knowing that now should make the full word easier to remember!

A “facsimile” is an exact or highly similar copy of something, usually a written or printed work. Originally spelled fac simile, the word arose in the late 16th century and referred to the making of an exact copy of a written work. This noun is of modern Latin origin and is comprised of the interjection fac (from the verb facere “to make”) and the adjective simile “like”.

Like the shortened form “fax”, “facsimile” can also function as a verb meaning “make a copy of”. The word generally refers to the copying of written materials such as books and manuscripts, though it really applies to anything that can be duplicated. In some contexts, it refers to the reproduction of items of historical value that are as close as possible to the original. So if your characters make a habit of copying things, take note: you may have quite a few good “facsimiles” in your stories!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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