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1851, from French saxophone, named for Antoine Joseph "Adolphe" Sax (1814-1894), Belgian instrument maker who devised it c.1840, + Greek -phonos "voiced, sounding." His father, Charles Joseph (1791-1865) invented the less popular saxhorn (1845). The surname is a spelling variant of Sachs, Sacks, literally "Saxon." Related: Saxophonist.