The important thing to remember about the word nexus is that it is a location. It is not so much a “what” as it is a “where.”
A nexus is a place where things connect. If you think of wires, connections, plugs, cords, sockets, etc., you are in the right place to understand the meaning of the word. For the most part it is a word that is employed in technology.
We find that nexus is a word that comes from Latin nect(ere) which means “to bind” or “to fasten.” (Dictionary.com) You can see how easily it moved over into contemporary American English, where it has to do with fixtures which create a place where various things connect. It is as simple as plugging in your laptop. The nexus in that case is the electric plug meeting the socket, or the place where the cable is attached to the laptop. That connection provides the capability for the laptop to fire up and work.
But nexus has other uses than technology, per se. For instance, an article from Stanford University I read about the relationship between water and energy pointed out the nexus of the two factors:
It described the article as “…an overview and analysis of the policy, scientific and technical research on the connections between water and energy. This review is a comprehensive survey of the literature from the academic, government and nonprofit sectors, organized around the water and energy life cycles.” *
There are more literary uses for the word, as well. In a paper about the intersection of people living in diaspora and the effect of their presence on issues like peace and conflict, the author says,
Several case studies of diaspora groups originating from the Horn of Africa will be provided to examine opportunities for diasporas to contribute to peace building as well as their role in conflict dynamics.” **
In this case, the nexus is far more a human connection than a technological one.
A teacher in a Charter School in Florida calls his Blog “The Kneeland Nexus” which is his way of connecting with his students about such things as homework, projects, coming events, and other pieces of information they need in order to stay current in his classes. Mr. Kneeland understands the true meaning of the word. It is a “place” where information is connected between a teacher and a student.
I suppose there are all kinds of ways to use the word. For instance, I go to Starbucks on a regular basis, as it is a place where I am surrounded by authors, poets, artists, and academics, and in which our conversations stimulate ideas for writing, painting, teachings, etc. It is the comfortable and welcoming space that is the nexus. Coffee’s not bad either.
Logo Credit: Nexus Pocketable