co·​here kō-ˈhir How to pronounce cohere (audio)
cohered; cohering

intransitive verb

: to hold together firmly as parts of the same mass
broadly : stick, adhere
: to display cohesion of plant parts
: to hold together as a mass of parts that cohere
: to become united in principles, relationships, or interests
: to be logically or aesthetically consistent

transitive verb

: to cause (parts or components) to cohere

Did you know?

Cohere vs Adhere

When you finish writing a paper, you may feel that it coheres well, since it's sharply focused and all the ideas seem to support each other. When all the soldiers in an army platoon feel like buddies, the platoon has become a cohesive unit. In science class you may learn the difference between cohesion (the tendency of a chemical's molecules to stick together) and adhesion (the tendency of the molecules of two different substances to stick together). Water molecules tend to cohere, so water falls from the sky in drops, not as separate molecules. But water molecules also adhere to molecules of other substances, so raindrops will often cling to the underside of a clothesline for a while before gravity pulls them down.

Choose the Right Synonym for cohere

stick, adhere, cohere, cling, cleave mean to become closely attached.

stick implies attachment by affixing or by being glued together.

couldn't get the label to stick

adhere is often interchangeable with stick but sometimes implies a growing together.

antibodies adhering to a virus

cohere suggests a sticking together of parts so that they form a unified mass.

eggs will make the mixture cohere

cling implies attachment by hanging on with arms or tendrils.

clinging to a capsized boat

cleave stresses strength of attachment.

the wet shirt cleaved to his back

Examples of cohere in a Sentence

the account in his journal coheres with the official report of the battle beset by personal animosities, the people of the neighborhood could not cohere into an effective civic association
Recent Examples on the Web The meaning of those youthful experiences (their sharp edges smoothed by nostalgia) did not cohere until after my family moved to the United States in 1989, landing in the suburbs north of New York. Alexander Nazaryan, New York Times, 20 Feb. 2024 Biden’s answer is a cohering global coalition of democracies, pushing back from around the margins. Hal Brands, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Some years back, Stewart read a memoir that seemed to magically spew onto the page all that was cohering in her mind. Alex Morris, Rolling Stone, 14 Feb. 2024 The mystery plot doesn't quite manage to cohere, but Smolowik's confidence and pluck make this film an entertaining watch. Danny Horn,, 4 Jan. 2024 But these scattershot hypotheses fail to persuade or to cohere, which only adds to the air of aimless repetition. Inkoo Kang, The New Yorker, 1 Feb. 2024 There’s a lot of moving of ladders, lots of writing in chalk, lots of images that — in isolation, in and of themselves — might have some interest or resonance to them but fail to cohere into a potent, graceful theatrical vocabulary. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 25 Jan. 2024 As Green Roads practices have cohered, the concept has garnered institutional support. WIRED, 23 Dec. 2023 Even the shadows his characters cast are made of miniature humans, and tiny people also cohere into hair, vines and milky ways. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 1 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cohere.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Latin cohaerēre "to stick together, be in contact with, be connected," from co- co- + haerēre "to be closely attached, stick," going back to a stem *hais-, of obscure origin

First Known Use

1598, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of cohere was in 1598

Dictionary Entries Near cohere

Cite this Entry

“Cohere.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


co·​here kō-ˈhi(ə)r How to pronounce cohere (audio)
cohered; cohering
: to hold together firmly as parts of the same mass
: to consist of parts that cohere
: to become united in principles, relationships, or interests
: to be in agreement between parts
coherently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on cohere

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