You can say they are perfect foils for each other or are perfect rivals, but that's not really what I'm getting it. What word describes the perfect level of acrimony between two people, which would be the opposite of "chemistry"? Thesaurus suggests "repulsion" but that doesn't really capture the inherent feeling in the room when you see these people together. It's not that they have "bad chemistry" (don't work well together), it's that their hatred of each other motivates them and pushes them to succeed, so in the end they accomplishes as much as a pair with perfect "normal" chemistry. Maybe another way to describe "anti-chemistry" is bad chemistry that mutates into to good chemistry.

Born from a mutual dislike, Adam and Jamie have great _________.


Adam and Jamie's _________, born from mutual dislike, is tangible.

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    Opposites attractused to say that people who are very different from each other are often attracted to each other. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opposites%20attract
    – user66974
    Jul 28, 2017 at 22:28
  • dark energy....
    – ab2
    Jul 28, 2017 at 22:58
  • @ab2 I was thinking that too, but I think there's something more specific. The yin and yang answer is good in that regard.
    – geokavel
    Jul 28, 2017 at 23:02
  • 1
    Add a sample sentence else your question may get closed.
    – k1eran
    Jul 28, 2017 at 23:18
  • 1
    Your own term foil captures this idea well. In your example sentences, chemistry still works. Here's an example of the use of the term chemistry in the context of a single actor who plays opposing roles in the same show.
    – Lawrence
    Jul 28, 2017 at 23:49

4 Answers 4


Abbot and Costello, the yin and yang of comedy, enjoyed fame in the 40s and 50s.

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (also yin–yang or yin yang, 陰陽 yīnyáng "dark–bright") describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. - Wikipedia


This doesn't fit the sentences I supposed, but I think antidotal could work (i.e "Jamie and Adam are antidotal to each other.")

Antidote: something that relieves, prevents, or counteracts [MWO]


Mutual repulsion.

Noun: repulsion ri'púl-shun

The force by which bodies repel one another

  • repulsive force Intense aversion
  • repugnance, revulsion, horror The act of repulsing or repelling an attack; a successful defensive stand
  • standoff

-- WordWeb Online


I think discouragement or revulsion discouragement: Noun:- -state of being discouraged -act of discouraging

-something that discourages

Detailed expression: - -the feeling of despair in the face of obstacles

-the expression of opposition and disapproval.

revulsion: Noun -disgust, repugnance -sudden change in feeling toward a particular subject -withdrawal, act of drawing back -act of drawing blood from one area to another through counterirritation (Medicine)


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