What is the difference between "synergistic" and "synergetic"? I believe they both speak of the cooperation of multiple things to produce an output, but how do they differ?

  • 1
    It would be tempting to say that any difference relates to the difference between synergy and synergism, but a quick search suggests that there is no consistent correlation between noun and adjectival forms across several fields of use. – Fortiter Jan 11 '13 at 2:48
  • I think there isn't a difference, they seem to by synonymous, according to the dictionaries I checked. – Fraser Orr Jan 11 '13 at 2:55
  • synergetic [ˌsɪnəˈdʒɛtɪk], synergistic adj another word for synergistic thefreedictionary.com/synergetic – Kris Jan 11 '13 at 6:31
  • 1
    A slight distinction exists between synergetic & synergistic, a term also used scientifically in med., anat., phys. & pharmacology. The latter use implies a net gain through the combined action of two muscles, hormones, chemical agents, etc; that is greater than the sum of the constituent elements acting independently. Synergetic, while connoting the simultaneous, motion-impelling action of multiple forces, makes allowance for the vector nature of forces in the physical sciences. [based on Fergus J. Wood, springerreference.com/docs/html/chapterdbid/30915.html] – Kris Jan 11 '13 at 6:45
  • 'synergetic' sounds like someone was trying to remember 'synergistic' but made up their own way of making an adjective out of 'synergy'. It sounds 'off', so the more likely one you would use in most formal contexts is 'synergistic'. But maybe some groups particularly like the other one. – Mitch Apr 15 '19 at 21:55

Other than synergistic having some specialized meanings in theology and medicine, both have the same definition as per the OED. Synergistic is the older of the two and, at least in my experience, more common.

  • What does “as per” say in your sentence above that “per” alone does not? Isn’t “as per” a bit too much? – tchrist Jan 11 '13 at 5:09
  • 1
    as per is the standard expression in parts of the world outside the US. as per Consistent, or in accordance, with. en.wiktionary.org/wiki/as_per – Kris Jan 11 '13 at 6:32

Synergistic is older and is still used scientifically in many fields. It usually means that there is a proven result that is more than the sum of its parts. I would use this term if there are corroborating results. Synergetic is newer and is most often used in coaching for productivity in work groups. It usually implies the intent and determination to produce better outcomes working in synergy with others, regardless of success.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.