If I am Rita's coach, is Rita my *coachee? (yikes) Is that even a word? Would it be correct instead to say she is my ward? What about terms for people at the other end of a mentor, sponsor relationship?

  • This has started being used at my work. Thank you for asking the question for me.
    – Stephen
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 4:57
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    '...ee' is usually paired with an '..er', isn't it? Employee/Employer, Trainee/Trainer. I wouldn't use Coachee because to me, it implies you're a Coacher, not a Coach.
    – Beejamin
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 21:05
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    But mentoring and coaching are two different skills. So therefore could not be refered to as mentee if being coached.
    – user76632
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 14:54
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    Coachee seems very stilted to me. After hearing the term used excessively during a four hour class, I picture a coachee as some kind of rare, hothouse flower that needs extensive nurturing.
    – user89582
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 18:11

6 Answers 6


Coachee is indeed a valid word, but often not widely used. I would suggest pupil or trainee instead.

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    The OED reports that coach means "an instructor or trainer in sport"; in that case, I would not use pupil.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Mar 8, 2011 at 11:20
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    That's not the only meaning of coach (as a title) though. We also have concepts like "life coach".
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 13:29

You need to qualify the terms to find suitable counterparts.

If you are Rita's coach (sports) then Rita might be a member of your team.

If you are Rita's guardian (parental) then Rita might be your ward.

If you are Rita's mentor then Rita might be your trainee (in education) or disciple (spiritual).

Update: @Malvolio suggests protégé, which I think is the best answer so far.

  • mentee has also gained quite a bit of ground, recently.
    – Jimi Oke
    Commented Mar 8, 2011 at 13:14
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    God, I hate mentee. The word is protégé. Commented May 31, 2011 at 17:47
  • @Malvolio - protégé is probably the best answer. Add it as an answer and I'll delete mine.
    – Ed Guiness
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 7:43

Coachee indeed is a valid word.

Alternately, you could use student.


'Protégé' is the word you are looking for.


In a sports context, Rita is your athlete. The possessive should make it clear enough what the relationship is.


When the word "coach" is used to mean "guide" (as in a business environment), the person being guided is a "follower," but the follower is really an employee. So, as someone who is always willing to push the envelope with language, I propose a new word for the employee who is being coached/guided: emplayee. Now I know this will not catch on, but I just had a little bit of fun. Think about it: when you are an emplOyee, you are going round and round in that "O" doing your job and maybe spinning it a little off-track every now and then. When you are an emplAyee, you are on your way to a lesson from your boss/manager/coach and you want to get an A, like you used to do in school in the classes you loved.

Thank you!

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