This question, Google Ngrams, Wikipedia, and several dictionaries all say that connexion is an alternate, obsolete spelling of connection.

I am reading a several-hundred page treatise (Milton S. Terry, 1890, Biblical Hermeneutics), wherein the author uses both forms, favoring connexion considerably. The instances of connexion (84) are listed here, and the instances of connection (9) are listed here. I think what I am reading is the author's 500-page condensation of the work linked.

My question is this: Why is connection used at all?

Does it really mean something different? It appears to be used synonymously. Is it merely an instance of non-standardized spelling (as with the diaries of Lewis and Clark, where a word can spelt multiple ways in a very short space)? This would be the only instance of this that I have found so far. Is there a different explanation that I haven't yet considered?

  • can spelt: you mean "can be spelled"? :) – NH. Jun 5 '18 at 17:38

I have come across many instances of connexion in various readings, and based on my experience, I have to say that I have never seen a usage of connexion which would not felicitously be replaced with connection. The Wikipedia page and EL&U question you linked bear this out.

All that in mind, I would say that the variant spellings are almost certainly evidence of non-standardization.


If you really, really want to know, here's the OED's explanation:

Etymology: < Latin connexiōn-em (in classical Latin cōnexiōn- ) binding together, close union, n. of action < co(n)nect-ĕre (participial stem co(n)nex- ) to connect v.: compare French connexion (14th cent. Oresme), Provençal connexio , Spanish conexion , Portuguese connexão , Italian connessione . The etymological spelling connexion is the original in English; in 17th cent. it was supported by the verb connex v.; after the latter was displaced by connect v., the n. began c1725–50 to be often spelt connection , a spelling which, under the influence of etymologically-formed words, such as affection , collection , direction , inspection (all < Latin participial stems in -ect- ), is now very frequent.

The earlier English lexicographers, including Bailey, Johnson, Walker, Todd, Crabb, recognize connexion only. Connection appears in Webster (1828) who says ‘For the sake of regular analogy, I have inserted Connection as the derivative of the English connect , and would discard connexion ’. This preference has been followed by other dictionaries in U.S. Latham would differentiate the two spellings and use connexion only in senses 5– 8 Connexion is the official and invariable spelling in sense 8, and was used in all senses by the majority of writers (or printers) in England until the mid-20th cent., when connection became more usual.

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