Webster’s New College Dictionary defines a kindred spirit as an “individual with the same beliefs, attitudes or feelings as oneself.” The term’s long cultural history and relevance in how we interact with others provides us insights into our desire for love and deep connections with people. Kindred spirits are identified as having an almost otherworldly attachment to each other, with bonds that are very difficult to break.

Origins

Couple walking through a garden

The words “kindred” and “spirit” both arose from the 13th century. Kindred evolved from the Old English word kinraden, which itself came from the word raeden, meaning to “condition” or “rule.” Spirit has its roots in the Old French word, “espirit.” The word kindred generally refers to family or relatives, while spirit has many meanings, including the original version of the word, espirit, meaning “soul, courage, vigor and breath.” The term “kindred spirit” itself has an unclear history in terms of its first usage.

Psychology

bride with her bridesmaid standing outside a church

Among women, close attachments seem to be more prevalent than with men. Though men may have more friends, women’s relationships tend to be deeper. As Carol Lasser writes in her article, "Let Us Be Sisters Forever," since the 19th century women formed close bonds with other women due to their closeness in status during the industrial revolution. Often considered less than men, women’s relationships were stronger, Lasser argues, because of their mutual struggles. A study performed at the University of Manchester suggests that women are often better friends than men because they stand by their friends through good times and bad.

Romance

Teenage couple (15-19) sitting face to face on beach, sunset

Though kindred spirits are not always the product of romance, the bonds that form through a courtship can inspire a very close relationship. For instance, as you learn about a person, you may start to feel a deep connection with him as you begin to share experiences and discover common interests. Kindred spirits are often considered the same as soul mates; that destiny had a hand in bringing two people together.

Cultural Relevance

low angle view of the legs of a man and woman sitting at a caf?

The term “kindred spirit” is used in various cultures to describe close friends and lovers. By performing a basic search of the word, you will find several dating websites suggesting that connections can be made with kindred spirits. The term has also found a home as a title to some online and print publications such as Kindred Spirit Magazine as well as various books, TV shows and movies. The author L.M. Montgomery famously used the phrase in her novel, Anne of Green Gables.

Examples of Kindred Spirits

Couple having picnic and drinking wine outdoors

Several kindred spirits have dotted history books for ages; among them, Alexander the Great and Cleopatra, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Fictional kindred spirits include Anne and Gilbert of Anne of Green Gables, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Jim and Pam from the TV series, “The Office” and Captain James T. Kirk and Spock of “Star Trek.”