The Meaning of Coherent: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of coherent? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the term coherent, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word coherent mean?

According to The Free Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word coherent is an adjective with many meanings. The first meaning of the word coherent is logically or aesthetically integrated or ordered, or having a due agreement of parts. This thing or person has clarity and intelligibility, and is understandable. Second, coherent can mean cohesive or coordinated, or having some quality of holding together or cohering. This is also a term in mathematics and physics that means either producing coherent light or relating to or composed of waves that have a constant difference in phase or similar direction, such as a coherent source.

Something that is coherent will have a consistent relation of parts, something that has valid reasoning or capability, or something that is done in a consistent manner. Many things can be coherent, including a coherent plan, coherent design, coherent strategy, coherent state, coherent message, coherent statistical information, coherent speech, coherent theories, a coherent marketing direction, or even a coherent mass of sticky candies. 

In physics, something that is coherent when in relation to two or more waves has the same phase or a fixed phase relationship or difference, as in coherent light of electromagnetic waves. This is called a constant phase relation or constant phase relationship, stable phase relation or stable definite amplitude.  This can also be used to describe a system of units of measurement that consists only of a small number of basic units in which the quotient or product of any two of which yield the unit of the resultant quantity, or are derived by multiplication or division only. One might see this used when discussing a laser or optics, per Dictionary

There are many different languages that also use words that mean coherent. You may notice that many of these words look and sound similar to the word coherent. These are college cognates, which are words and phrases that look and sound alike while retaining a similar meaning across languages. These are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin, such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word coherent is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Greek: συνεκτικός‎ (masc.)
  •  Polish: koherentny‎ (masc.)
  •  Dutch: samenhangend‎, coherent‎
  •  Finnish: koherentti‎, johdonmukainen‎
  •  Scottish Gaelic: pongail‎
  •  Danish: sammenhængende‎
  •  Italian: coerente‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  Maltese: koerenti‎
  •  Russian: свя́зный‎, после́довательный‎
  •  Catalan: coherent‎
  •  Spanish: coherente‎
  •  Esperanto: kohera‎
  •  Hungarian: egységes‎, koherens‎
  •  Portuguese: coerente‎
  •  French: cohérent‎ (masc.)
  •  Bulgarian: ясен‎, последователен‎
  •  German: kohärent‎, schlüssig‎, wiederspruchsfrei‎, folgerichtig‎
  •  Czech: souvislý‎ (masc.), ucelený‎

What is the origin of the word coherent?

According to Etymonline, the word coherent has been used since the 1550s to mean harmonious and since the 1570s to mean sticking together, or connected and consistent in a figurative way. This comes from the 16th century French cohérent, from the Latin cohaerent or Latin cohaerentem, the nominative cohaerans. This is the present participle of the verb cohaerere, a Latin verb meaning to cohere. This comes from the assimilated form of om meaning together and the root haerere meaning to adhere or stick. Related words include incoherent and hesitation.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word coherent?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word coherent. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are useful terms to learn if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself as well as if you are trying to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word coherent is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  lucid
  •  rational
  •  consistent
  •  comprehensible
  •  organized
  •  intelligible
  •  orderly
  •  identified
  •  reasoned
  •  meaningful
  •  sound
  •  logical
  •  systematic
  •  understandable
  •  articulate

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of the word coherent. These opposite words are called antonyms. Learning antonyms is another quick and easy way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the rod coherent is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  discontinuous
  •  irrational
  •  disordered
  •  wild
  •  incohesive
  •  discordant
  •  wandering
  •  incomprehensible
  •  muttered
  •  stammering
  •  uncommunicative
  •  inconsistent
  •  unvocal
  •  mumbling
  •  puzzling
  •  disconnected
  •  inarticulate
  •  indistinguishable
  •  uneven
  •  rambling
  •  incoherent
  •  jumbled
  •  dumb
  •  unintelligible
  •  muddled
  •  maundering
  •  unconnected
  •  incongruous
  •  muffled
  •  mute
  •  confused
  •  breathless
  •  disjointed
  •  faltering
  •  uncoordinated
  •  indistinct
  •  stuttering
  •  tongue-tied

How can the word coherent be used in a sentence?

The word coherent can be used in many different ways in American English. Below are examples of coherent. 

The teacher was frustrated at the lack of coherent answers for the students’ essays and quiz answers. None of them could write a coherent essay, and every quiz answer had the grammar of a Tweet.

The lucid thinker presented a meaningful connection of intel in a coherent presentation for marketing’s assignment. She got the presentation approved to take to the publishers at Random House to teach them about the benefits of a coherent localized marketing strategy.

They knew their toddler was a genius when at age one she could have coherent interactions and memorize the tune of a song.

The frightened maid could not form a coherent thought when she saw the ghost come out of the pond. Her boss tried to talk her down in a calm way, but her lack of coherence made it difficult to understand what was going on.

The armed groups made a number of tactical mistakes which caused interference from the other forces. They could not make a coherent, effective tactical execution to save their lives.

Overall, the word coherent means being understandable, or lucid. This adjective is of French and Latin origins. 


  1. coherent: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense
  2. COHERENT Synonyms: 26 Synonyms & Antonyms for COHERENT | Thesaurus 
  3. INCOHERENT Synonyms: 40 Synonyms & Antonyms for INCOHERENT | Thesaurus 
  4. coherent | Origin and meaning of coherent | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Coherent – definition of coherent | The Free Dictionary 
  6. Coherent | Definition of Coherent | 
  7. Coherent | Definition of Coherent | Merriam-Webster