I am looking for a word, preferably a noun, to describe the space created between two people depending on their relationship. Similar to the concept of multiplicity, where two or three people singing can sound like several people, where something is created from the combination of two other things. This is a neutral word that describes the space between two people but not the character of the space.

For example, if a brother and sister had a hostile, hateful relationship and you were sitting in between them-that space- or if two best friends have a warm, loving relationship and you sat between them-that space. I am thinking along the lines of hygge (Danish word that refers to a warm safe comforting feeling of being home that is created by intentionally introducing specific elements ie candles, hot soup, cozy blanket, warm conversation, appreciation of nature/simple things/holding space to be present and savor simple moments ), What I am looking for in this case refers to the space that is created by the relationship between two people regardless of the connotation/condition of the relationship but the space exists as a result of the relationship. A noun that refers to the landscape created by the relationship.

Example sentence: Although Jane was patient and kind, and Jim was caring and gentle, the space between them was cold and harsh.

The tense and hostile space created by Mr. and Mrs. Smith was not conducive to nurturing the well being of their children.

Editing based on comment suggestions

  • What thesaurus alternatives have you found that are nearby but not what you want? Start with 'relationship' or 'atmosphere'. Also this is one place where ChatGPT can help (ask for alternatives with example sentences).
    – Mitch
    Commented Apr 8 at 13:00
  • What is wrong with the word 'atmosphere'? Other than that - aura, vibe, mood or intersubjectivity?
    – beyoh
    Commented Apr 8 at 15:54
  • Atmosphere comes close to what I am looking for, but since it can be applied to so many contexts, I was hoping to find a word that refers to the space/atmosphere specifically created by the relationship between two people. A specific atmosphere that is created from the fallout of a relationship. So the character of the place/atmosphere would be dependent upon the nature of the relationship, but it is not the relationship/vibe/chemistry itself. Commented Apr 10 at 19:53
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    – tchrist
    Commented May 7 at 16:29

8 Answers 8


The word vibe might work.

Cambridge defines it as:

the mood of a place, situation, person, etc. and the way that they make you feel

TFD defines it as:

A distinctive emotional quality or atmosphere that is sensed or experienced by someone

  • 1
    vibe is slang.
    – Vector
    Commented Apr 8 at 20:01
  • 5
    @Vector It is somewhat informal, but OP didn't specify what register they're writing in. Certainly The New York Times is willing to use it.
    – alphabet
    Commented Apr 8 at 20:35
  • I'm old school :-) - go back to the days before there was even such a word at all. Then it became a word used by college kids - derived from "good vibrations" - originally from the hippies of the 1960's. Now it has slipped into vernacular English because those college kids grew up - there are many similar terms in use. But. it still sounds 'slangy' to me.
    – Vector
    Commented Apr 8 at 21:36
  • 5
    @Vector there is nothing wrong with slang. Slang is very much an integral part of language and how native speakers use it, so unless the question specifies a more formal register, I don't see any problem with slang at all. By the way, according to etymonline, "Meaning 'intuitive signal about a person or thing' was popular late 1960s, but has been recorded as far back as 1899". So unless you are very old school, the use predates you :)
    – terdon
    Commented Apr 9 at 13:42
  • 1
    @Vector fair enough. I thought you were somehow saying that slang shouldn't be posted as an answer. Thanks for clarifying. And I had absolutely no idea it was that old either! I would have assumed 60s too, but I have been bitten by this too often now, and have found many words or phrases that I thought were young are actually much older, so I checked and found it interesting.
    – terdon
    Commented Apr 12 at 16:20

You are most likely looking for chemistry (definition # 3 below). The specific (positive) definition # 4 below is synonymous with rapport which is typically used in positive contexts.

Although Jane was patient and kind, and Jim was caring and gentle, the chemistry between them was cold and harsh.


chemistry in American English


  1. the interaction of one personality with another
    The chemistry between him and his boss was all wrong

  2. sympathetic understanding; rapport
    the astonishing chemistry between the actors

  • Yes to chemistry, but I have only heard it used in a positive sense... two actors have a great chemistry and work well together, or two characters have a chemistry that makes the reader suspect they might fall in love later
    – nuggethead
    Commented Apr 9 at 12:27
  • @nuggethead it can be used in a negative sense. See sense 3 in the Collins definition above.
    – jrdevdba
    Commented Apr 9 at 18:30
  • This word is probably closest to the requested meaning, because it is very often used to refer to the connection between two specific people rather than the general atmosphere of a group. However it can also be used to refer to a group of people, as for example in referring to members of a musical band.
    – barbecue
    Commented Apr 10 at 12:09

In Spanish we use the word "energy", I don't know if it can be applied to English:

Que buena energía genera este entorno
What good energy this environment generates

Entre ellos dos hay una muy buena energía
Between the two of them there is a very good energy

  • I think in English you'd normally talk of an individual having a certain kind of energy (see this Reddit thread). It doesn't mean something created by two people interacting.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Apr 8 at 20:03
  • 3
    I grew up on the west coast of the US, and we'd definitely refer to "the energy between the two of them". I now live on the East Coast, and when I use language like that people say to me "you're such a Californian!".
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Apr 9 at 2:01

How about undercurrent? You can use that in both positive and negative senses:

There was an undercurrent between them, full of passion and excitement.

There was an undercurrent between them, harsh and foreboding.


Mood, perhaps

  • a conscious state of mind or predominant emotion; a prevailing attitude; the way you feel at a particular time

Rapport might work:

Cambridge Dictionary- rapport(2)

Agreement or sympathy between people or groups:


It was as if I could feel our souls become electrified as two became one. Like a moth to a flame our semi-conscious selves became one conscious soul guided to each other if only through the Either.

And in my times of need. As if she could never leave. Her essence can be felt beside mine. Almost as if she never died. I now spend my time now thanking the HEAVENS not only for The Either.

                  For Rina
  • I suspect you mean ether rather than either. Commented Apr 13 at 4:24

Disposition 'The disposition between the two of them was very low'

Collins gives:

Someone's disposition is the way that they tend to behave or feel.

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Apr 8 at 15:58
  • That example isn’t idiomatic English.
    – Davislor
    Commented Apr 9 at 15:53

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