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synergistic

Printable Version Pronunciation: si-nêr-gis-tik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Interacting in such a way that the result is greater than the sum of the effects of the individuals involved in the interaction.

Notes: Today's Good Word has been very popular over the past few decades, so it has developed several derivational relatives. Synergism is a rather old one, referring to the religious belief that individual salvation can be achieved only with the help of divine grace. This adjective comes from the noun synergy, which refers to synergistic interaction itself.

In Play: It seems to be a fact that two or more people can work together and synergistically accomplish more than they could working alone: "Marge, I don't think yours are the only two kids who synergistically do the damage of three kids when they play in the house." Working together always pays off, no two ways about it: "Lloyd and Claudine's synergistic collaboration led not only to almost three times more memos in the office but to memos much better written."

Word History: Today's Good Word is the adjective from synergy, a word derived from Greek sunergos "working together". It is made up of syn "together (with)" + ergon "work". Greek ergon came from Proto-Indo-European werg- "to do, make", which ended up in German as Werk and in English as work. Greek also molded orgia "secret rites" from this root, which English borrowed as orgy—an interesting kind of work. Surgery was borrowed by English (via French) from Latin chirurgia, reduced from Greek kheirourgia "handwork" from kheir "hand" + ergon + the noun suffix -ia. (We thank Loren Baldwin for suggesting this term in hopes that we have worked synergistically with him in producing today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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