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Connexion

Connexion is an archaic variant of the noun we now spell connection. (Similarly, reflexion, inflexion, etc. are now most often spelled with the -ction ending.) It was fairly common in British English until the late 20th century, but today the spelling has faded out of use except in a few proper nouns (usually company names) and special uses. Many if not most speakers of British English would regard it as strange or incorrect, and most usage guides advise against it, but several British-oriented dictionaries claim it remains a standard variant.

Here are a few examples of connexion used in old texts:


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This uniting principle among ideas is not to be considered as an inseparable connexion. [David Hume, A Treatise on Human Nature, 1740]

He had married a meek little dancing-mistress, with a tolerable connexion. [Charles Dickens, Bleak House, 1853]

It was an unsuitable connexion, and did not produce much happiness. [Jane Austen, Emma, 1815]

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Comments

  1. It is my understanding that connexion is more faithful to the word’s linguistic roots; that is, the Latin connexio.

  2. I love ‘connexion’, ‘reflexion’, etc. and have used them since I discovered them in the Oxford Dictionary in high school. I prefer to think of them as delightfully old-fashioned rather than ‘archaic’ and look forward to the day they come back in vogue.

    • Second! It would go a long way in making english easier to learn to foreign speakers if we actually used our letters to represent the sound they make. Why have an x in the language and then mainly use it to make a z sound?

  3. Used as recently as the ’50s. It shows up in Lord of the Rings

  4. Even later than that, Razanir. At school in the UK in the 1960s I was still being taught that “connexion” was preferable to “connection” (something to do with the spelling of the equivalent word in Latin). At the time, I resisted the recommendation (believing that the “obviousness” of connect –> connection outweighed any other consideration; yes, I was indeed a teenage grammar/usage pundit!), but these days I’m increasingly drawn to the charms of “connexion”.

  5. Gabriel Bertilson says:

    Connexion at least follows the Latin spelling. That may or may not mean that it is “correct”. It depends on one’s definition of correctness. English nouns ending in the suffix -ion come from Latin nouns in -iō, which are usually verbal nouns formed from the perfect passive participial stem of the verb. The Latin verb from which connect comes has cōnectō or connectō “I connect” as its present tense and cōnexus or connexus “connected” as its perfect passive participle (kind of like the English past participle). So the perfect passive participial stem is cōnex- or connex-, and the verbal noun is cōnexiō or connexiō (which you can find in a Latin dictionary), which would yield English connexion. Connection is weirdly formed on the present tense stem, connect-. That breaks Latin rules, at least.

    It’s an honest mistake to make, though. Usually the Latin perfect passive participial stem ends in -t, and often it’s the form that’s used as an English verb. In this case, the perfect-passive-participial -t was added, but this caused there to be two ts together (connect-t-), which ordinarily become an s in Latin (connecs-), and the combination cs is spelled x (connex-), resulting in something that doesn’t look like a perfect passive participle stem. Therefore, it’s natural enough to take the stem with a t at the end of it and make it into a verbal noun. That makes it follow the pattern of other nouns ending in -tion.

  6. I like that connexion works in both English and French.

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