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

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

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the word cohesive mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary and Dictionary, the word cohesive (pronounced kəʊˈhiːsɪv) is an adjective that is used to describe things that are unified or coherent. When the different parts of something work well together, or seem to fit together nicely, they can be described as cohesive. For example, the interior design or a room might be described as cohesive design. A team of people that works well together could be considered a cohesive group, cohesive team,  or cohesive unit. An essay that makes sense could be described as cohesive. Anything that makes sense together, works well together, or exists well with other things can be described as cohesive.

The word cohesive also exists in many other languages. You may notice that some of these words look similar to the word cohesive. These cognates are forms when the two words have a common origin. This list of translations for the word cohesive is provided by Word Sense.

  • Catalan: cohesiu‎
  • Czech: soudržný‎
  • German: zusammenhängend‎
  • Malay: jeleket‎, kohesif‎
  • Bulgarian: свързващ‎, зацепващ‎
  • Russian: свя́занный‎, сплочённый‎ (close-knit)
  • Turkish: bağlı‎, yapışık‎, yapışkan‎
  • Romanian: coerent‎, coeziv‎
  • Greek: συνεκτικός‎ (masc.)
  • Indonesian: kohesif‎
  • Swedish: sammanhängande‎
  • Spanish: cohesivo‎
  • Portuguese: coeso‎

What is the origin of the word cohesive?

According to Etymonline, the word cohesive has veen used since the year 1730 to refer to things that are capable of unification. This word is formed by the suffix ive as well as the Latin cohaes, which is the past participle stem of cohaerere, which is a LAtin verb that means to cleave together. This is used figuratively to mean to be coherent or consistent. This is an assimilated form of the root com meaning together, with the food haerere, which means to adhere or stick. Related words include cohere, cohering, coherent, the adverb cohesively, cohesion, cohesiveness, and coherence, as well as incohesive. Try using these new words in a sentence as your word of the day!

How can the word cohesive be used in a sentence?

The word cohesive can be used in numerous different sentences to describe things that fit together well. In this first example, Jason’s final project for art class is being evaluated by his teacher.

Teacher: Jason, I’m really impressed with how cohesive your color palette is. IT is very distinct, and yet it works together very nicely. I’m very impressed.

Jason: Thank you!

Here, Jason’ teacher uses the word cohesive to describe how the different colors he chose for his piece work together nicely. In this next example, Jason tried to cook dinner for his family as a special anniversary celebration for his parents.

Jason: Here, we have a roasted chicken with mint and roasted red peppers. Bon appetit!

Mom: Jason, thank you so much for making this for us.

Dad: Yes, son. It’s very thoughtful of you. It’s just that the flavors aren’t exactly… cohesive. Did you use a recipe?

Jason: Nope! Made it up myself!

Mom: And we’re so thankful that you’re experimenting with food. But Jason, I can’t lie to you, the flavors just don’t work together. Let’s order a pizza and we can roast a chicken this weekend and figure out a spice palette.

Here, Jason’s dad describes the flavors of the dish as lacking cohesion. This means that the flavors Jason has decided to use do not work well together. In the final example, Jason’s teacher is putting him in a group for a project.

Teacher: Jason, I wanted to ask you about something. Would you be okay joining Sierra and Ronnie’s group for the project?

Jason: Sure. Is there a reason why? I think my group is doing pretty okay.

Teacher: Sierra and Ronnie argue a lot. I think you could be a bit of a cohesive agent for the two of them.

Jason: Sure!

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word cohesive?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word cohesive. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. It is useful to know synonyms if you want to avoid repeating yourself or if you are seeking to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word cohesive is provided by Thesaurus

  • conjugate
  • conjunctive
  • coadunate
  • corporate
  • united
  • incorporated
  • combined
  • lined up
  • integrated
  • tied in
  • linked
  • joined up
  • unified
  • allied
  • banded
  • federal
  • one
  • associated
  • pooled
  • affiliated
  • in cahoots
  • leagued
  • cognate
  • concerted
  • conjoint
  • in agreement
  • confederated
  • homogeneous
  • unitary
  • in accord
  • of the same opinion
  • plugged in
  • unanimous
  • hooked up
  • consolidated
  • cooperative
  • of one mind
  • amalgamated
  • agreed
  • concordant
  • congruent
  • assembled
  • undivided
  • collective
  • like-minded

There are also many different words that have the opposite meaning as the word cohesive. These are known as antonyms. Antonyms are also very useful to know if you wish to expand your vocabulary and knowledge of the English language. This list of antonyms for the word cohesive is also provided by Thesaurus.

  • divergent
  • disunited
  • disembodied
  • severed
  • sundered
  • partitioned
  • apart
  • disassociated
  • divorced
  • detached
  • disjointed
  • divided
  • scattered
  • distant
  • distinct
  • apportioned
  • disconnected
  • abstracted
  • parted
  • separated
  • marked
  • cut apart
  • distributed
  • removed

Overall, the word cohesive is an adjective that is used to describe something which has parts that work together or fit together well. For example, the design of a room can be cohesive, or the flavors of a dish can be cohesive. There are even cohesive forces and cohesive organizations that work together as a team to make change. This is a very commonly used adjective and you will see it frequently used in sentences.