- A link or intricate set of links between two or more things
- A collection of linked things
- The core of a subject or a web of interrelated things
With the advent of the Internet, it's easier than ever to observe and understand the interrelation between topics than ever before. But with the ease of access to information it affords us, the Internet also reveals the complexity of such interconnections - if you've ever leapfrogged from link to link across dozens of Wikipedia articles, you know the feeling. The level of complication of how all this information is interconnected is so great that the relationship outgrows a simple bilateral connection, or even a web of topics, and takes on the intricacy of a nexus.
The word nexus means the tie or ties that relate two or more objects, whether literal or conceptual, to one another. Besides illustrating the links themselves, nexus can also describe the aggregate set of links between an array of things, the composite of all the individual relationships. A word-cloud or a map of a social network are each examples of a nexus. When a link or collection is characterized as a nexus, it is often implied that the individual components that comprise it are related in ways that are nuanced or complex.
Additionally, nexus can be used to signify the focal point of a set of ideas or things. In essence, the nexus of a web of items is the organizing principle that connects them all, or to which all of them are in some way related. Many times, when a core component is described as a nexus, the sum of the components bound together could itself be referred to as a nexus. Across all of these meanings, the term nexus emphasizes the relationships between things over the things themselves.
Example: In spite of how long its influence has been felt, the nexus between money and politics is only just beginning to be fully understood.
Example: The Grand Unified Theory of particle physics seeks to define the nexus of the universe's physical forces in one simple equation.
Example: The nexus of the music professor's lecture was that the only path to success lies in putting in hours of practice.
Nexus first entered the English lexicon in the middle of the 17th century as a word that meant "bond" or "mode of communication." This term traces, largely unaltered, back to the Latin word nexus, meaning "that which ties together." The Latin nexus is the past participle form of nectere, which meant "to tie or bind."
From Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus:
Belief in the causal nexus is superstition.
By describing the nexus as simply "causal," Wittgenstein refers to the broad and abstract set of interrelations, at least in appearance, between causes and effects in the observable universe. After characterizing this extremely wide array, he utterly refutes it all by saying that to believe in such a web of connected phenomena is delusional and misguided.
From Stephen King's The Gunsligner:
Yet suppose further. Suppose that all worlds, all universes, met at a single nexus, a single pylon, a Tower. And within it, a stairway, perhaps rising to the Godhead itself. Would you dare climb to the top, Gunslinger?
In this passage, King has his speaker hypothetically pose to "the Gunslinger" that all of existence meets at a single central point, or nexus.
- A nexus is what connects us.
- A nexus joins one thing to the next.
Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of nexus. Did you use nexus in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.