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From Ancient Greek συνεργία (sunergía, cooperation), from σύν (sún, with, together) + ἔργον (érgon, work).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈsɪnəd͡ʒi/
    • (file)
  • (US) enPR: sĭnʹər-jē, IPA(key): /ˈsɪnɚd͡ʒi/


synergy (countable and uncountable, plural synergies)

  1. (systems theory) A synonym of binding energy.
    • 1986, John Andrew Dillon (Society for General Systems Research). Proceedings of the International Conference on Mental Images, Values, & Reality. Vol. 1, Intersystems Publications, p. D-7
      Depending on the initial condition of the system (initial alphabet and number of elements) the co-evolution of nested local and global hierarchies continues until the system reaches a maximum value of complexity. At least for nuclear systems a quantitative variable called "complexity" can be defined, which increases in an irreversible manner during stellar evolution (Winiwarter, 1983). This variable C is composed of an informational measure I describing the variety of the computed formulas and an energetic measure R describing the relative binding energy or "synergy" permitting the coherence of the system.
    • 2009, J.-C. Spender, “Organizational Knowledge, Collective Practice and Penrose Rents”, in Michael H. Zack, editor, Knowledge and Strategy, Routledge, page 125:
      In short, synergy is the consequence of the energy expended in creating order. It is locked up in the viable system created, be it an organism or a social system. It is at the level of the system. It is not discernible at the level of the system. It is not discernible at the level of the system's components. Whenever the system is dismembered to examine its components, this binding energy dissipates. An ordered library offers systemic possibilities, such as rapid search, selection, and aggregation, that cannot be explained by looking at the books themselves. These possibilities only exist because of the investment made in defining and creating interrelations between the books, their physical arrangement and the catalogues.
  2. (physiology) The cooperation of two or more nerves, muscles, organs, etc.
    the digestive synergy
  3. (pharmacology) The combined action of two or more drugs where the effects are stronger than their mere sum.
  4. (figurative) Benefits resulting from combining different groups, people, objects or processes.
    • 2010, Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies, Fourth Estate (2011), page 187:
      Others argued that the notion of a targeted war on a particular disease inevitably distracted from natural synergies with other areas of research.
    • 2024 February 7, Andrew McNaughton, “HS2: a truncated route cuts off city lifelines”, in RAIL, number 1002, page 47:
      Remember the eastern leg of HS2 being lopped back to the East Midlands? To this Yorkshireman, this was a tragedy. It removed the umbilical cord designed to connect and bind together the modern advanced manufacturing corridor of England (West Midlands-East Midlands-the reborn Sheffield-Leeds-Teesside-Tyneside), helping it to be capable of competing internationally through the synergy of skills and skilled people.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In business contexts, this word is often discouraged due to its status as a corporate buzzword. [1] In other fields, such as competitive gaming, this word is fine to use.



Related terms[edit]


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Further reading[edit]