Is the difference merely a matter of American ("inflection") vs British ("inflexion") spelling? Or is there something more to it?

  • 1
    What does the dictionary say?
    – choster
    Aug 12, 2016 at 5:34
  • @choster - it turns out that depends very much on which dictionary you consult. It seems that if you consult an American dictionary, it's likely to tell you that -xion is simply a British variant, but if you consult a British dictionary it will tell you that it's a variant form that is no longer in common use. Feb 5, 2017 at 1:05

3 Answers 3


The -ction suffix for some terms of Latin origin ending in -xion was adopted especially in AmE from the 18th century. BrE spelling appears to prefer the -xion suffix:

Inflection (n.)

  • also inflexion, early 15c., from Middle French inflexion and directly from Latin inflexionem (nominative inflexion) "a bending, inflection, modification," noun of action from past participle stem of inflectere "to bend in, to change" (see inflect). For spelling, see connection.


  • Spelling shifted from connexion to connection (especially in American English) mid-18c. under influence of connect, abetted by affection, direction, etc. See -xion.


  • ending favored in British English for certain words that in U.S. typically end in -ction, such as connexion, complexion, inflexion, as being more true to the Latin rules.


  • 3
    I'd dispute your source's assertion that "-xion" is favoured in British English. It may have been true once upon a time, but today "-ction" is almost universally used. See, e.g. Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, 4th ed: "current usage prefers -ction (e.g. connection, deflection, genuflection, inflection)" Feb 5, 2017 at 0:52
  • 4
    ... or Routledge Handbook of the English Writing System: "Usually the <xion> form is so rare in both American and British spelling as not to be a viable partner to the much more common <ction> form ..." It goes on to describe "xion" as appearing old-fashioned or even archaic to British readers while appearing British to American readers. Feb 5, 2017 at 1:00
  • @PeriataBreatta - you should post an answer providing the references and link you have found.
    – user66974
    Feb 5, 2017 at 8:50

In Jane Austin and Trollope for example, you always get 'connexion' which certainly looks archaic to an older (64) British reader such as myself (Family 'connexions' always loom large in early 19th century literature). However, the reason I am here just now is - I was using the word 'Inflexion' in a report. It sort-of looked right but I wasn't sure. Tried 'Inflection'; it looked right too. QED.


It's interesting that whilst in the UK, 'connexion' ceased to be acceptable in the later half of the twentieth century ( The Times Newspaper used the word until the early nineteen seventies ) the use of 'inflexion' has resisted the inevitable tide of change. Albeit i accept that 'inflection' is now the usual spelling.

As a writer of fiction, (joke allowed) i still prefer inflexion, but being somewhat older than most readers, will likely be the last advocate of its use.

My spell checker is accepting inflexion but rejecting connexion, try yourself.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.