Is there a word in English that exclusively means something like "to create a social bond", and which can't also mean a physical linkage?

I'm looking for something that can be used in a sentence like "the two friends were [word]ed together by their shared experience", but not in a sentence like *"the planks of wood were [worded] together" or *"just let me [word] my shoelaces".

For context, I'm trying to figure out if there's a good (non-ambiguous!) equivalent for the Japanese word "tsunagaru". Common English translations of that involve "link", "connect", "bond", etc., but all of those English words seem to be broader than the Japanese word in question.

  • Even 'marry' has broadened usages in the construction domain. Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 15:46
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    I am writing up an answer, using 'bond' as a verb, however, that would mean "creation of an emotional connection" like friendship, a special friendship of an almost family sort of way , not merely an "association" where they exchanged cards and cooperated on projects as their primary interaction. Is it the emotional tie of friendship or the cooperative tie of shared aims ? For example, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others were 'bound' together by their shared dream of a new form of government for the American Colonies, yet there the myth doesn't depict them as 'pals' necessarily.
    – Tom22
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 22:24

3 Answers 3


Endear (to) comes very close, though it isn't automatically a two-way connection. From Dictionary.com:

to make dear, esteemed, or beloved:
He endeared himself to his friends with his gentle ways.

For your example sentence, you would need to make the endearment reciprocal:

The two friends were endeared to one another by their shared experience.

It is occasionally possible for an inanimate object to endear itself to someone (e.g., "the movie ET and its title character endeared themselves to a generation of children"), but it is pretty exclusively used for an emotional response. You wouldn't say that *"glue endeared glitter to the card" or anything like that.

Some actual examples of this usage:

Nightly through the long months of summer did the lovers keep their tryste, parting only after each meeting more and more endeared to one another.
"Waw-o-Naisa, or, The origin of the whippoorwill", The American Monthly Magazine, July, 1836

Christine and I also share crazy similarities in our life stories which has made us particularly endeared to one another.
Unposed Blog, August, 2017

Men will become endeared to each other while they are fighting together in the trenches of struggle, and when Ian attended a course in Pretoria instructed by Andre Thorburn, not only was a big step taken in Ian’s knife making; but something else was forged: a friendship.
The Cutting Edge (custom knife website), ND

  • Ooh, now that's a good one, particularly with the (non-obvious) last example related to brothers-in-arms. "Endear (to)" functions roughly the same way as the foreign word I'm thinking of (so I can map grammar easily), and carries connotations of creating social closeness. I'll wait a bit before accepting, but "endear" will definitely be useful for explaining certain translations.
    – Soron
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 14:23

I've never seen fraternise [with] used for non-personal-relational usages like 'form a social bond [with]'.

WordNet ... Farlex has:

fraternise: socialise, socialize - take part in social activities; interact with others

He never socializes/fraternizes with his colleagues

The old man hates to socialize/fraternize


fraternise - be on friendly terms with someone, as if with a brother, especially with an enemy

  • Fraternize has a connotation of not actually being very close friends, I think. It's like "hang out with". Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 7:36
  • @Max Williams If we worry overmuch about any but the most prevailing connotations, we'll never use any words at all. Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 11:31
  • But surely worrying about the subtleties of language is what makes this site so enjoyable? Besides, I think this is "prevailing". Consider "Did you use to fraternize with Jim?" "We did more than fraternize - he was my best man and the godfather to my children". In other words, the question is asking about a degree of friendship stronger than that implied by simply fraternizing with someone. Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 12:01
  • If there were a causative+habitual form of "fraternize" in English, I reckon it'd be a pretty solid option. +1 because this is definitely still useful, though it doesn't quite fit without rewording sentences during translation, or applying some creative word-formation ("fraternalize", maybe?).
    – Soron
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 14:38
  • @MaxWilliams in my specific case, degree of closeness isn't as important as making sure that "just let me [fraternize/endear/etc.] my shoelaces" sounds so obviously nonsensical as to be absurd (not a made-up example; that's basically what I said, albeit not in English). But for the sake of general applicability and such, makes sense to raise that point.
    – Soron
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 14:42

I think bonded is totally unambiguous in context, "The two friends bonded over a shared experience" would never be interpreted as "The two friends where permanently attached together in a physical manner by adhesive, pressure or heat."

English is very context dependent, and in this context the meaning of 'Bonded' is "emotionally or psychologically linked."

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    Yes, but bonded is also used, very frequently, to mean physically attached, which is what the OP is specifically trying to avoid. You seem to be saying that he shouldn't try to avoid that, but he is, and the other answers fit that requirement.
    – spoko
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 14:19
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    OP goes on to say they are looking for "a good (non-ambiguous!) equivalent for the Japanese word "tsunagaru"." 'Bonded is totally non-ambiguous if used in this context.
    – JeffUK
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 14:22
  • In a super-clear context, it may not be. But it absolutely is a word with both discrete meanings, and so by its very nature it has some ambiguity. The entire point of this post is to find a word that doesn't have both meanings -- the OP already knows about bond and other words that do have both meanings.
    – spoko
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 14:27
  • It fails in the first of the two anti-examples: you can definitely say "the planks were bonded together" (well, maybe "are"), which is the translation pitfall I'm trying to avoid. I could potentially edit the question to be clearer about wanting a word that's non-ambiguous, even when that word is devoid of context, if that would help.
    – Soron
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 14:28
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    @EthanKaminski Why the proscription against physical linking. Entirely out of context "The two people bonded" can only mean "The two people became friends". It has absolutely no connotation of physicality in that shortest of sentences.
    – Mitch
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 15:09

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