Consider this expression:

Chemistry between player X and player Y helped their team to win the championship three times in a row.

Even though team X has got tons of great players, still they never win anything as there is no chemistry between their star players, they all play individually.

Can anyone suggest similar words to 'chemistry' in this context?

  • In the second sentence, I think the last two clauses are not connected correctly. Maybe it could be written "...between their star players, as they all play individually."
    – user485
    Mar 18, 2013 at 18:52
  • This is a tough one. Chemistry is not used to imply attraction. We are talking about two players whose playing styles are compatible to each other or can coordinate well on the field. Mar 18, 2013 at 20:13
  • 2
    @EnglishLearner: Actually, chemistry is used in that context; here are some examples. Also, see Macmillan definition #2 and Collins def #4.
    – J.R.
    Mar 18, 2013 at 20:22
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    I think chemistry is such a fitting word here that I'm wondering why you are looking for a replacement. But if you really must use a different word or phrase, you could say that players X and Y clicked.
    – J.R.
    Mar 18, 2013 at 20:29
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    @user3169 It could also be written "...between their star players; they all play individually", which seems more like what was intended, but the writer may not have known how to use a semicolon. Mar 18, 2013 at 21:52

3 Answers 3


The first one being just a pair of players there are terms like alignment, rhythm, harmony, synchronicity, and magic that would seem appropriate.

Teamwork, collaboration, unity, and cohesion would be more appropriate for the second since this is talking about a larger set of players.

If you want a term for both, collaboration would be my suggestion.

As for Matt's suggestions:

Spark could work as, "The spark between Jordan and Pippen helped their team to win the championships for the Chicago Bulls."

X-Factor can be a bit more tricky as each person has part of the recipe here and not all of it since the idea is that these players coming together brought great success.

Rapport would likely require one to have the understanding that this is within the context of playing the game together rather than just having an understanding within communications.

In the second context, another phrase one could use is that, "The whole is more than the sum of the parts," as the idea is that a team with chemistry can do more than what each player could do alone.

  • 1
    +1. Also, how about "spark", "x-factor" and "rapport"?
    – Matt
    Mar 18, 2013 at 21:53

I would replace chemistry with either coordination or Unity.

Coordination/Unity between player X and player Y helped win the championship 3 times in a row.

Even though team X has got tons of great players, still they never win anything as there is no coordination/unity between their star players, they all play individually.

  • Unity isn't a bad word, particularly when getting through tough times together, but coordination isn't very apt at all here.
    – J.R.
    Mar 18, 2013 at 20:30
  • @JR, I’m looking at online thesaurus (thesaurus.com/browse/chemistry?s=t). Coordination is listed under similar word for chemistry (when used as organization). I’m wondering if the original sentence is referring ‘chemistry’ as to the playing style (in field) between the players or something more (personal relationship, behavior, aptitude, compatibility). And I agree that the word coordination seems to be very limited to just playing style. Mar 18, 2013 at 20:43
  • In the realm of sport, coordination often brings to mind athletic ability (an antonym of clumsy); see the second definition here. While coordination can indeed be used to describe harmonious interaction, that word would be a poor choice in this context, I think.
    – J.R.
    Mar 18, 2013 at 22:43

in the UK it is not uncommon to hear the phrases

player X and player Y have a good understanding.


player X and player Y have a good partnership.

These are especially common in the context of football (soccer) but it wouldn't be out of place to use them in non sporting contexts either.

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