Origin of the word
Connect came into English in the 15th century, derived from the Latin ‘conectere’ meaning ‘join together’, which in its turn was formed from ‘com’, meaning ‘together’, and ‘nectere’, meaning ‘to tie or bind’. By the 1540s, however, the form connex, from Middle French ‘connexer’, came to prominence and was more frequently used in its place. A century later saw connect accepted and in common usage once more. Alongside changes to the English language, in French ‘connexer’ was also eventually superseded by ‘connecter’.
In addition to the original meaning of ‘join together’ (1), the timeline of developments concerning the meaning of connected is as follows:
1881 – ‘established a relationship’ (2)
1920 – ‘aimed a blow that reached’ or ‘connected with a target’ (4)
1926 – ‘got in touch with’ referring to telephone connections (3)
1942 – ‘experienced empathy with another person’ (2)
E. M. Forster included a passage in his novel Howards End in which his character Margaret Schlegel is thinking about the importance of ‘joining together’ the material elements of day-to-day living, such as having to earn money, and the more spiritual and uplifting aspects of human existence (1).
“Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.” – E. M. Forster. 1910: Howard’s End. Chapter 22.
Connections between people may be based on family ties, or due to sharing social or business circles. This has also been a very popular feature of social media groups since they began (2).
“Online social networks are changing the way people communicate, work and play, and mostly for the better, says Martin Giles… The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, currently in progress, is famous for making connections among the global great and good.” – The Economist, 28th January 2010: A World of Connections.
Advances in technology have enabled people to make use of more and more sophisticated communications networks (3).
“We don’t want to get too technical here – the main thing to take from this is that fibre broadband is far faster than traditional ADSL internet. It uses fibre optic cables to send and receive data, resulting in a speedier, more reliable internet connection.” – TechRadar, 12th September 2017: The best fibre broadband deals in September 2017.
It is possible to speak of ideas and courses of action being connected, as well as things or people (4).
“As London confronts a post-Brexit future in an age of changing work patterns and shifting global alliances, the connections between government support, entrepreneurism and technological capacity are at the heart of the debate of how cities will compete for jobs, talent and investment.” – LSECities, 13th September 2017: Rohan Silvia. Public lecture. Innovation, Governance, Technology – are they connected?
1. things, events or facts that are related to each other
2. people who have a social, business, or family relationship
3. the ability to communicate using a telephone or computer network
4. items that are joined to each other or to something else.