1

Often, nouns have a corresponding verb form. For example, analysis / analyze.

According to Oxford Dictionary, the noun "harmony" can mean:

  1. the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce a pleasing effect
  2. the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole
  3. the state of being in agreement or concord

I'm interested in the verb form of this noun "harmony" carrying its 3rd meaning (i.e. the state of being in agreement or concord). An example sentence: "In this remote place, man were in perfect harmony with nature."

However, according to Oxford Dictionary, the verb form "harmonize" means:

  1. add notes to (a melody) to produce harmony
  2. produce a pleasing visual combination
  3. make consistent or compatible

My question is, does the 3rd meaning of the verb "harmonize" actually correspond accurately to the 3rd meaning of the noun "harmony", or is there a better word in verb form that corresponds and carries the 3rd meaning of the noun "harmony".

For example, would it sound right and comprehensible to say, "In this remote place, man were perfectly harmonizing/harmonized with nature."

2

The verb form "harmonize" closely aligns with the noun "harmony". As with many other words, while "harmony" is based in music it metaphorically extends to any related activity.

The couple never fought and lived in domestic harmony until they died, both within a few days of each other.

The professional race car driver does not have time to consciously think about driving; instead he enters a kind of meditative state where he exists in perfect harmony with his car and reacts instinctively to changing track conditions

Anywhere you can use "harmony" you should be able to use "harmonize":

The couple harmonized with each other

The driver harmonizes with his car

However, just because you can doesn't mean you should. In many contexts "harmony" simply sounds better, possibly because "in harmony" is a common idiom that expresses a deep meaning with few words.

He lived in harmony with nature.

but not

His life harmonized with his natural surroundings.

However, in context sometimes "harmonize" works better:

The artist managed to harmonize the painting's disparate elements into a profound cohesive statement.

Instead of "harmonize" it would be more natural to say "become one with".

A good driver becomes one with his car.

Note you can use the adjective "harmonious" anywhere you use "harmony", although again some uses may not be idiomatic.

  • I think you make the key point well. Idiomatic in harmony is a well-established metaphoric usage that would rarely draw attention to itself, but the verbified form can often carry overtones (poetic or otherwise "florid", for example) that might be neither intended or desired. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 14 '17 at 20:18
  • I agree with your main point, but, for some reason, "The driver harmonizes with his car" sounds like really bad English to me. It's hard to pinpoint why – maybe it's the pairing of a person with an inanimate object? (By the way, before I posted this, I typed "harmonizes with his car" into Google to see what I might dig up. It returned one result: this answer. So maybe it isn't just me.) – J.R. Apr 14 '17 at 20:25
  • @J.R. Even if odd and ambiguous it's still grammatical, yes? I could say "he harmonizes with his car" to mean he sings along with the sound of the engine (perhaps like James Cordon when he's alone and bored), and you would know what I mean. I would prefer to say the driver is "in harmony" with his car but I can't think of any reason (other than common practice) why I couldn't use "harmonize". – Andrew Apr 14 '17 at 21:10
  • It's grammatical, but it just sounds odd to me. At the very least, I think learners deserve a comment letting them know that an example may not be the best. Google reports 65,000 hits for "harmonizes with nature," and 200,000 for "harmonizes with the universe" but none for "harmonizes with his house" or "harmonizes with her car". Interestingly enough, "becomes one with his car" gets over 180,000 hits reported. (I realize, if we dig into the results, those numbers are probably not really quite that high, but that's enough evidence for me to think that there's something to my hunch about this.) – J.R. Apr 14 '17 at 22:07
  • @J.R. Yes, I'll edit the answer to include this. However if you don't like this use of "harmonize", you'll really hate what some of us involved in the woo-woo world do to the poor verb "resonate". – Andrew Apr 14 '17 at 22:36

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