I need it to use it in a speech as a metaphor for synergy or the ability to actually be stronger when using the capabilities of both sides.

  • "Strength in numbers", perhaps? Or a metaphor like "Mentos and Sprite" might work (especially if you happen to work for a company that makes explosives or fireworks). Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 15:57
  • Thanks We are experimenting a case of different divisions felt like other divions heads can't help , they felt like they actually are the smarter ones always, why didn't you post it as an answer?
    – Rick9
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 16:02
  • 4
    What's wrong with the word you already used: synergy. That can be used in speech.
    – Kaz
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 22:37
  • Two elements can be bonded, and forming a bond between two other entities, such as corporations, makes them stronger. Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 11:44
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: Symbol of the Roman Republic?
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 16:09

18 Answers 18


This is exactly the concept of synergy, and it brings to mind the famous related quotation

"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

By the way, this quote is often attributed to Aristotle's Metaphysics. However, there is a claim that "there is no place in Metaphysics where the phrase or anything similar can be found!".

Likewise, others attribute the quote to the Gestalt school of psychology -- although this too is an error, arising from a mistranslation.


Consider alloy

a metal made by combining two or more metallic elements, especially to give greater strength or resistance to corrosion:

  • 2
    +1, but "unalloyed" has a sense of complete, pure, or unreserved (in the sense of an emotion).
    – rajah9
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 16:02
  • @rajah9 An interesting dichotomy of the language. It reminds me of the contradictory meanings for sanction and cleave.
    – bib
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 16:04
  • Thanks the definition I find before for alloy didn't specifically point out the enhancement part (stronger or corrosion resistance) appreciate your help
    – Rick9
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 16:05
  • @Some defs do and some don't.
    – bib
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 16:09
  • 3
    Some definitions don't include the enhancement part because it's not essential. What makes an alloy an alloy is the mixture of metals. Why they are being mixed, and what the properties are once mixed, don't change the "alloyness" of the result. In fact, some uses of the word alloy focus on the fact that a valuable metal has become less valuable once a lesser metal has been mixed with it. So @Rick9, I do like alloy for your intended use, but you may want to flesh it out with an example that fits your situation, the classic one being bronze.
    – John Y
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 16:27

After having found the following title in The Washington Post, "Marriage Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts" by William Raspberry, I think that "marriage", in a metaphorical sense, can be the word you are looking for.


You could also try one of

The compound effect of A and B ...


The synergistic effect of A and B ...


The combined effect of A and B ...


How about "gestalt"? Means pretty much the same as "synergy" (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) but less likely to have your colleagues ticking jargon bingo boxes.


Perhaps the word you are looking for is potentiate:-

  1. to cause to be potent; make powerful.
  2. to increase the effectiveness of; intensify.

This word is sometimes used in the biochemistry trade to cover the situation where two chemicals or reagents are only moderately dangerous to humans of themselves, but in combination are very dangerous indeed. I'm told this is the case with Malathion and Parathion. Each of them is known to be toxic, but in combination they are much more dangerous than either of them would be separately; each of them potentiates the other.


The words you are looking for are alloy and steel. Steel is a much nicer word because of the term 'as strong as steel'.

Example: "Together, the Medic and Soldier were as strong as steel."


Fusion comes to mind:

a merging of diverse, distinct, or separate elements into a unified whole

Amalgam as in amalgamating also comes to mind:

to unite in or as if in an amalgam; especially: to merge into a single body

As does the Italian word fasci (from the Latin fasces):

During the 19th century, the bundle of rods, in Latin called fasces and in Italian fascio, came to symbolize strength through unity

Though it has that unfortunate connotation of fascism.

And, from the French, melange:

a mixture often of incongruous elements

  • Go Go Power Rangers!
    – Paul S.
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 21:55

You might consider catalysis (kuh tal' uh sis). A simple definition could lay the groundwork:

an action between two or more persons or forces, initiated by an agent that itself remains unaffected by the action

You can then explain briefly what a catalytic agent is and suggest that the initial decision to combine the capabilities of both sides can serve as a catalyst in making the synergy stronger. What does a catalyst do? It is something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.

The decision to use synergy as a mode of action does not change the mode; it serves, however, as a catalyst to double the strength of the synergy. The end product of the synergy is catalyzed by the decision, not vice versa.

Play with it! Adapt it!


Updated: If you are looking for a pithy phrase to describe the benefits of joining two sides.

Unity is strength


These are to be taken as suggestions. As I had to look them up, I am still not very clear on their meanings; I do not pretend they are the answers which the OP is seeking. However, they might be useful in helping him make the final choice.


a superagonist is a type of agonist that is capable of producing a maximal response greater than the endogenous agonist for the target receptor, and thus has an efficacy of more than 100%.[1][2] For example goserelin is a superagonist of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor.

This word provides further evidence that Brian Hooper's answer, potentiate, is perhaps the correct one.


In clinical pharmacology, a potentiator is a drug, herb, or chemical that intensifies the effects of a given drug, such as hydroxyzine used to get more pain relief and anxiolysis out of an equal dose of an opioid medication. The potentiation can take place at any part of the liberation, absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of the drug.


In animal and plant breeding, this is hybrid vigour (heterosis), which you can extend metaphorically to other cases.


"Metamorphosis", though not necessarily describing a combined effect of various sources, but solely a transformation, and not stating the effects to be positive, negative, or even adhereing to a special entity such as force, could be used to describe a "synergy" ...

The fusion of such and such trigger a metamorphosis that creates an entity richer in force as any of it's original contributors on their own...

Also, I don't know the context, but if you're talking physically, check "metabolic effect" ...


How about symbiosis? Can give reference, just by interpreting the conditions.

catalysis also sounds matching.

It's just both rather Latin.

  • 2
    If you "can give [a] reference", it is normal practice to include the reference (or a link to it) in the answer. Your last sentence doesn't make sense. Please write answers in standard English, since this is an English Language site!
    – TrevorD
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 23:55


The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)

@Rick9: For a speech, I would recommend a good quote, by a popular man/woman. You are lucky!!! Aristotle should be famous enough. ;-)

I need it to use it in a speech as a metaphor for synergy or the ability to actually be stronger when using the capabilities of both sides.<

In your speech, you could use it like this:

What you want to say and then: Aristotle, (the great greek philosopher), whose name means "the best purpose", summed it up in a simple formula: The whole is more (alternative: equals more) than the sum of its parts.



How about Synergy? (overused in business jargon)

  • 2
    "Synergy" is already suggested in the question and in existing answers. Please do not simply repeat existing answers.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 23:43
  • wow I read the question entirely too fast.
    – boomhauer
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 0:17

The majority of answerers are not reading the question. Hopefully the following point of interest maybe useful when researching your speech regarding using a metaphor for synergy. My old dictionary from last millenium (1980's heh heh) does not list "synergy".

It does show "synecdoche" with the definition as "figure of speech by which whole of thing is put for part or part for whole. eg sail for ship"

Am no linguist but i wonder what the source/root of "synergy" is?.
It would appear "synergy" itself is a metaphor!?

Other words/definitions which have not been listed yet-

  • compelling- which may indicate there are other forces other than what is observed
  • coersive - as in coersive bond (chem)

    Another tangent could be the meaning of "threefold cord" being stronger than a two or one fold cord in the Bible. (Ec 4:12) It may take much research to get the meaning- try Watch Tower Library; but the gist is using the same elements to create a far superior strength and symbiotic relationship.


You are looking for the equivalent of "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts", often referred to as synergy and Gestalt theory.


Simply say:

"When these two ... combine, the resulting whole is stronger than the parts"

You would be perfectly clear, you would not open yourself to the accusation of using jargon (synergy) or psychobabble (gestalt), you would not reveal an ignorance of metallurgy (alloy), you would not sound like a foodie (fusion, melange) and you would cause no distress to one whose spouse had very recently left (marriage).

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