[koh-heer-uh nt, -her-]
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  1. logically connected; consistent: a coherent argument.
  2. having a natural or due agreement of parts; harmonious: a coherent design.
  3. cohering; sticking together: a coherent mass of sticky candies.
  4. Physics, Optics. of or relating to waves that maintain a fixed phase relationship, as in coherent light, or light in which the electromagnetic waves maintain a fixed and predictable phase relationship with each other over a period of time.See also laser.

Origin of coherent

1570–80; < Medieval Latin cohērent-, variant of Latin cohaerent- (stem of cohaerēns), present participle of cohaerēre. See cohere, -ent
Related formsco·her·ent·ly, adverbnon·co·her·ent, adjectivenon·co·her·ent·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for coherent


  1. capable of logical and consistent speech, thought, etc
  2. logical; consistent and orderly
  3. cohering or sticking together
  4. physics (of two or more waves) having the same phase or a fixed phase differencecoherent light
  5. (of a system of units) consisting only of units the quotient or product of any two of which yield the unit of the resultant quantity
Derived Formscoherently, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for coherent

1550s, from Middle French cohérent (16c.), from Latin cohaerentem (nominative cohaerens), present participle of cohaerere "cohere," from com- "together" (see co-) + haerere "to stick" (see hesitation).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper