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At work we’ve talked about needing a word that means the opposite of synergy. So I did some searching and came up with a few options. :)

Technically, synergy doesn’t exclusively describe positive effects of working together, and can also be used to describe negative effects. But common use makes this unclear, so many have used “negative synergy” to be more specific.

Some say the opposite of synergism is antagonism, but the connotations of antagonism don’t work with situations where parties are trying to achieve mutually positive results.

I’ve seen dysynergy offered as an easily understood option. Personally, I think it sounds like a hack, and would rather find a more elegant solution.

Antergy is another logically constructed word that would fit the bill. I’ve read that it’s used as the opposite of synergy. It’s defined in “Coalition formation: a game-theoretic analysis” http://tinyurl.com/2jjg8a . However, the word could be reasonably understood to indicate a complete cancellation of the parts, which isn’t quite right. And in a different use, I’ve seen this in economic circles describing something which is more valuable as parts than as a whole, as when a conglomerate is purchased and split into several smaller companies which are then sold at great profit. Not exactly what we’re looking for.

This leaves dysergy. It’s almost as clear as dysynergy and is seems more elegant. It also is validated by being used exactly as desired in the field of mereology (the study of part/whole relations). http://tinyurl.com/2nsjmc

I vote for dysergy.

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8 Comments

  1. How about an antonym for “Synergy” as “Disynergy”, like “Section” and “Disection”, or “Order” and “Disorder”, which are in some contexts complimentary? Dysynergy looks and sounds clumsy (sounds like Die-synergy). Instances of “Disynergy” are littered throughout the web.

  2. My reason for less preference of “dysergy” is that by back-tracking it’s not immediately apparent that “dysergy” is linked to synergy, due to the loss of the “n” as in sy”n”ergy (or in e”n”ergy for that matter). Whereas with “disynergy” it’s fairly obvious that it’s related to synergy. I think that connectivity is important to preserve.

  3. > it’s not immediately apparent that “dysergy” is linked to synergy, due to the loss of the “n” as in sy”n”ergy (or in e”n”ergy for that matter).

    Personally, I find this unpersuasive. It’s equally valid to complain that you can’t get to disynergy from synergy. And besides that, you can.

    Synergy is from greek: sun+ ergos. Considering that “dys” is a greek prefix, you can certainly get there. “Dis” is from latin, so if you use it you’re mixing languages needlessly.

    > Dysynergy looks and sounds clumsy (sounds like Die-synergy).

    To me, the two (dis- and dys-) look almost identical and sound identical (pronouncing “dys” as in “dystopia” or “dyslexic”).

    But to be honest, to me the question is answered. There’s already a field dedicated to this topic, and I’m content to use the lingo of the experts than to try to craft my own, non-authoritative solution in an already muddled topic.

  4. The opposite of synergy is nysergy.
    Synergy being the sum of the parts being greater than the whole…and generally used to refer to good parts or qualities – although not required by definition. So Synergy can be positive synergy or negative synergy.

    In order to lend general understanding of intent the word nysergy is most correct, using the same letters. Nysergy is simply negative synergy – when the sum of the parts is less than the whole – as in the character and behavior of a government or many financial (or other large) institutions. Stocked with quality individuals these organizations tend fail miserably as they behave in a manner that would suggest they operate collectively with the total of all the worst of the individuals’ characteristics.

  5. Most correct? While there may (or may not) be an argument for using “nysergy”, I don’t see any justification for calling it correct. It doesn’t appear to follow any standard linguistic rules or even have any previous use.

    Personally, I think it’s a bad choice. If a person sees it and doesn’t know what it means, there is no way to find out. It isn’t located in the dictionary and it appears that this page will soon the the only use on the internet indexed by google.

  6. Allergy is the opposite of Synergy. That’s what we used on our BS degree.

    BS = Business Studies
    actually it works better as the other thing too

  7. Based on absolutlely no correct etymology – but intuitive – is “asynergy” / “asynergistic”.

  8. Asynergy doesn’t really work because the a- prefix means “not”. “Not producing synergy” is neutral, while the meaning being discussed is “the opposite of synergy”. It’s not that your intuition is based on “no correct etymology, it’s based on “incorrect etymology”. So while it might be intuitive for you, your intuition is wrong. You should educate it. :)


One Trackback/Pingback

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