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Which is correct?

  • The tag showed the familiar name of a colleague from work.
  • The tag showed the familiar name of a colleague at work.

The colleague is not necessarily working at the moment the tag is shown, much rather it's just a colleague from the workplace.

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By definition colleague means someone you work with, so you might not need the prepositional phrase at all. –  Shoe May 1 '12 at 7:18
    
However, you could have a colleague in your profession who works clear across the continent. Part of the definition is a fellow member of a profession. thefreedictionary.com/colleague –  JLG May 1 '12 at 12:34
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2 Answers

I don't think at is incorrect, but I think from is the better choice.

If we were together, and I waved at someone on the street, and you asked, "Do you know him?" then I might reply:

Yes, I know him from work.

(It's unlikely I'd say, "Yes, I know him at work.")

Besides, at work carries the connotation of "at the workplace" ("Can I talk with Martha now?" "No, she's at work.") or "busy at work" ("We must slow down in the construction zone – there are men at work.").

I think Shoe's comment is very astute, in that you don't need the prepositional phrase at all, but let's say the nametag showed a name familiar from somewhere else – say it's the name of a percussion player in your band. Would you say:

The tag showed the familiar name of a percussionist from our band.

or,

The tag showed the familiar name of a percussionist at our band.

(Personally, I think I might use in our band, but from would be acceptable, which is another reason I prefer from over at in your example.)

There are several meanings of the word from, but this discussion has centered on meaning #8 in Macmillan's list:

from: 8. belonging to a particular organization

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Neither. Just colleague.

colleague
noun a person with whom one works in a profession or business.

Avoiding tautology,

The tag showed the familiar name of a colleague.


tautology: the use of words that merely repeat elements of the meaning already conveyed

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