fac·​sim·​i·​le fak-ˈsi-mə-lē How to pronounce facsimile (audio)
: an exact copy
A facsimile of the world's first computer was exhibited at the museum.
: a system of transmitting and reproducing graphic matter (such as printing or still pictures) by means of signals sent over telephone lines

Did you know?

The facsimile machine (or fax machine) has long been an office staple, but its name is much, much older. Fac simile is a Latin phrase meaning “make alike.” English speakers began using facsimile to mean “an exact copy” in the late 1600s. In this sense, a facsimile might be a handwritten or hand-drawn copy, or even a copy of a painting or statue. (Today, we also use the phrase “a reasonable facsimile” for a copy that is fairly close but not exact.) In the 1800s, people developed facsimile technology that could reproduce printed material via telegraph. Now, of course, we use telephone lines or wireless technology, and we usually call the resulting facsimile a fax.

Choose the Right Synonym for facsimile

reproduction, duplicate, copy, facsimile, replica mean a thing made to closely resemble another.

reproduction implies an exact or close imitation of an existing thing.

reproductions from the museum's furniture collection

duplicate implies a double or counterpart exactly corresponding to another thing.

a duplicate of a house key

copy applies especially to one of a number of things reproduced mechanically.

printed 1000 copies of the lithograph

facsimile suggests a close reproduction often of graphic matter that may differ in scale.

a facsimile of a rare book

replica implies the exact reproduction of a particular item in all details

a replica of the Mayflower

but not always in the same scale.

miniature replicas of classic cars

Example Sentences

A facsimile of the world's first computer was exhibited in the museum. the family resemblance is so strong that the boy is virtually a pint-size facsimile of his father
Recent Examples on the Web Lippmann soon put the drawings on display and published a complete facsimile; an English edition was produced in 1896. Max Norman, WSJ, 4 Nov. 2022 Geometria's vibrant color palette recalls peak-era Dario Argento, specifically Suspiria, and Christopher Drake's score is a very workable facsimile of Goblin's greatest soundtrack hits. Declan Gallagher, EW.com, 7 Oct. 2022 The facsimile of literary argument in the complaint, however grotesque, has its uses. Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, 30 Sep. 2022 This candidacy is ultimately a test of how much Trump broke our politics—and how much a lesser facsimile of the former president can lie again and again and still succeed in American politics. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 16 June 2022 This is evidenced by the black-and-platinum presentation, similar badging and embossing as well as the same facsimile of F.A. Porsche’s John Hancock. Viju Mathew, Robb Report, 18 Jan. 2022 The original is in the Louvre, but the facsimile effectively recreates the impact of the painting in its original setting. Jenny Uglow, The New York Review of Books, 21 Oct. 2021 Monroe's internal workings are what fascinated de Armas, not the idea of creating a facsimile of a movie star, though there was plenty of opportunity for that. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 23 Sep. 2022 An attempt by food stylists to recreate a facsimile of a deli sandwich out of nonfood ingredients turned into an unappealing mess. New York Times, 18 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'facsimile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


from the Latin phrase fac simile "make alike," from fac, singular imperative of facere "to make, do, perform" + simile, neuter of similis "like, similar" — more at fact, same entry 1

Note: The phrase fac simile was well-known from its occurrence in one of the Distichs of Cato, a collection of proverbial wisdom (3rd-4th centuries a.d.) commonly used as a Latin textbook from the Middle Ages into the 18th century (though its meaning in the distich is different): "Qui simulat verbis, nec corde est fidus amicus, tu quoque fac simile—sic ars deluditur arte." ("If someone makes a pretense in speech and is not a true friend, you do likewise as well—and so art will be duped by art.")

First Known Use

1691, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of facsimile was in 1691


Dictionary Entries Near facsimile

Cite this Entry

“Facsimile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/facsimile. Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



fac·​sim·​i·​le fak-ˈsim-ə-lē How to pronounce facsimile (audio)
: an exact copy
: a system of transmitting and reproducing printed matter or pictures by means of signals sent over telephone lines

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