[ kol-eeg ]
/ ˈkɒl ig /


an associate.

Origin of colleague

1515–25; <Middle French collegue<Latin collēga, equivalent to col-col-1 + -lēga, derivative of legere to choose, gather


col·league·ship, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does colleague mean?

A colleague is someone you work with or someone who’s in the same profession as you, especially a peer within that profession.

Colleague can be a synonym for coworker, which is someone who has the same employer as you. But it also used to refer to people who have different employers but who work in the same or a very similar profession, especially when they regularly interact or share knowledge. For example, two medical researchers who work for different universities but who collaborate to publish research findings would be called colleagues.

Example: Sarah has received an outpouring of support from her fellow attorneys at the firm as well as many of her colleagues in the legal community.

Where does colleague come from?

The first records of the word colleague in English come from the 1500s. Colleague comes from the French collègue, which derives from the Latin collēga, meaning “one selected at the same time as another.” This is formed from col, which is a variant of com-, meaning “together,” and lēgĕre, meaning “to choose.”

Colleague is commonly used as synonym for coworker, as in Please be considerate of your colleagues when using the office kitchen. But the two words can have different tones. Coworker is typically used in a neutral way simply to indicate that you work with someone. But if you like your coworkers, you might introduce them to someone as your colleagues, which can indicate a sense of friendliness and respect.

Colleague doesn’t always refer to a coworker. It can also be used to refer to someone who works in the same professional field. In this sense, a colleague doesn’t necessarily do the same exact job as you, but they do work in the same field and are most likely a peer who you at least occasionally interact with, as in I enjoy meeting some of my fellow colleagues at the industry conference each year.

Another synonym for colleague is associate. Both words imply that the relationship is based on a shared professional setting or regular professional interaction.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to colleague?

  • colleagueship (noun)

What are some synonyms for colleague?

What are some words that share a root or word element with colleague

What are some words that often get used in discussing colleague?

How is colleague used in real life?

Colleague is always used in a professional context and usually implies respect. It can be used to refer to someone one works closely with, someone in a similar field of work or study, or someone whose day-to-day work is comparable to one’s own.



Try using colleague!

Which of the following words is not a synonym for colleague?

A. coworker
B. neighbor
C. associate
D. professional peer

Example sentences from the Web for colleague

British Dictionary definitions for colleague

/ (ˈkɒliːɡ) /


a fellow worker or member of a staff, department, profession, etc

Word Origin for colleague

C16: from French collègue, from Latin collēga one selected at the same time as another, from com- together + lēgāre to choose
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