I realised I have been using word "resonate" a lot lately but mostly in regards to people. For example:

I noticed I resonate with the type of people who _____ the most.

For some reason I decided to check The Free Dictionary for the definition that reads:

  1. To exhibit or produce resonance or resonant effects.
  2. To evoke a feeling of shared emotion or belief: "Bethune projected a strong presence of achievement and pride that resonated among African Americans" (Audrey Thomas McCluskey).
  3. To correspond closely or harmoniously: "Symbolism matters, especially if the symbols resonate with the larger message" (William Greider).

As you can see there is no mention of people and when I asked my friends (US), they said they would never use it in regards to a person.

Is there anything that I can replace it with? I don't want to get into a bad habit if the usage is incorrect.

I'm looking for something on the same "sophistication level" unlike to get on well or connect well with.

  • 1
    You relate well to people, get along well with people... The two of you understand each other... That said, I'm mighty unsure about both premises: that "resonate" is any more sophisticated than "connect well" or "get on well" ("resonate" has become something of a buzzword), and that it doesn't work the way you're using it. Any use of it beyond the first is figurative anyway, and it's an evolving term. You might lightly adapt it to saying that their opinions or personalities resonate with you. In any case, thanks for doing some research to produce a good question. +1 Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 4:01
  • Apologies, I put the "connect well" in the same sentence but I didn't actually mean it doesn't sound sophisticated. I don't mean to sound posh or anything - it's just "get on well" is very colloquial. I should also add that I was wondering if there is another one-word synonym
    – Moseleyi
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 4:26
  • To be clear, can you edit your post to clarify the intended meaning in the supposedly incorrect example. I think the usage is fine, but it does not exactly mean get along with (get on with).
    – Em.
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 5:38

3 Answers 3


You can absolutely use resonate to describe a social interaction--tell the naysayers "poppycock!"

The physical (original?) definition of resonate, describes vibration of material due to the vibration of another material. Physical resonance is all around us:

  • The body of an acoustic guitar resonates with the strings.
  • A tabletop resonates with a mobile phone ringing on it.
  • A window resonates with loud music played near it.

Considering that it's another term for sympathetic vibration, "resonate" is an excellent metaphor for being in agreement with someone.


In my opinion you can use the word resonate in relation to other people. For example the second definition you listed:

To evoke a feeling of shared emotion or belief

describes exactly a emotional relationship between different people.

A well-known idiom:

be on the same wavelength which means to be in agreement; to think or behave similarly

is very close to the word resonate and can be used quite interchangeably.

  • That's what I thought. My doubt comes from people telling me I use it incorrectly but I wasn't entirely sure whether I should believe my gut or them, hence the question here..
    – Moseleyi
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 4:23
  • 1
    This is a dialect/regional difference. In some places people will be more likely to use "resonate" in this way, in other places they may not use it this way at all.
    – Tesserae
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 2:52

No, two people resonating together sounds weird. When we use resonate in a figurative sense, we say things like, "his ideas resonated with me." Ideas is an abstract thing. We can imagine such an ethereal thing resonating in some sense with one's mind.

If you say that two people are resonating with each other, then the image to me is of two people physically vibrating together in harmony, which is just weird.

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