A student is a classmate, schoolmate, etc. to another student. But what is a teacher to another teacher?

Couldn't it be colleague? Surely not, because a colleague could be any employee working with another.

  • 12
    Teachers are also employees working together. So a teacher is indeed a colleague to another teacher.
    – Irene
    Jun 3, 2012 at 15:52
  • @Irene, If the teachers join together to run a charitable tuition. . . . Will they still be called colleagues ? . . . They are not working for anyone now. . . are they ? Jun 3, 2012 at 16:05
  • 5
    But they will still be working together. So, yes, they will still be called colleagues.
    – Irene
    Jun 3, 2012 at 16:12
  • 5
    the downvote was probably because you presume too much, that there must necessarily be a single word that captures exactly that concept, not a larger one like 'colleague'.
    – Mitch
    Jun 3, 2012 at 17:49
  • and now actually there are 2 up votes. Congrats.
    – user19341
    Jun 4, 2012 at 17:06

3 Answers 3


The generally used word is in fact colleague. You may also hear phrases like 'fellow faculty member' or 'fellow teacher' or 'coworker'.

There is no specific variant of the word for educators.

  • 2
    You're right that the generally used word is colleague. But the word "educator" is just a euphemism for teacher, and thus artificial, so it's rarely used without ironic scare quotes (audible or mental). As a teacher, I've always considered it a step down in status to be called an "educator". Jun 3, 2012 at 16:44
  • 3
    @JohnLawler As the son of an educator, I resent the implication that I use the word to mean any sort of offense. It's a term I've grown up hearing regularly, and generally, is used as a broader term, to be inclusive of those individuals, like my mother, who are not strictly teachers, but who are every bit a part of a functional instructional faculty. (Think Principals, Teachers Aides, etc.) Jun 3, 2012 at 23:13
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    I never had any of them where I taught (U of Michigan). There were teachers and there were non-teachers who worked there, and they were colleagues; but nobody ever used the term "educator" in my hearing with referential intent. Except possibly in the Ed School, but jargon is normal in any research area. Jun 3, 2012 at 23:18
  • @John Entirelt possible that it could be more of a K-12 thing, as that's where most of my experience with the word comes from. Jun 3, 2012 at 23:20
  • Some people use educator to refer to a teacher and educationist to (disparagingly) refer to (i) those who are administrators and thus in charge of setting up or enforcing arbitrary standards, curricula, and the like and to (ii) education school faculty who write pompous papers about the theory of teaching while being in complete ignorance of the practice of teaching. Sep 20, 2012 at 21:58

You are right that classmate is more specific than colleague, and that more context can be inferred from the word classmate than from the word colleague. But I don't think the implied assertion – that there must be a similarly-specific word for teachers – is correct.

Similarly, I think you might have a hard time finding a specialized word for "fellow custodian" or "fellow cafeteria worker" or "fellow guidance counselor" or "fellow bus driver." Not every group at the school will have a word that says, essentially, "one of us."

I thought of one candidate word – faculty – but I don't think that's a precise fit. A school might have a faculty lounge and a student lounge, but it would not have a classmate lounge. In the student lounge, a student might run into a classmate, but, in the faculty lounge, a teacher would run into a... ?

Colleague; that's what I'd say.

  • I thought words like costar have come into existence for actors, then there might be something like coteacher or cotutor Jun 3, 2012 at 19:48
  • Not every actor on the set is a costar; many are simply supporting actors with bit roles.
    – J.R.
    Jun 3, 2012 at 19:52
  • I mean lead actors. . . . So isn't there a similar thing . . . Like coteachers . . . . ? Will it be wrong if I use it in my (formal) write-ups. . . . ? Jun 3, 2012 at 19:58
  • Questions can be better answered when you provide more context. I don't know what kind of paper you're writing, so it's hard for me (or anyone else on EL&U) to advise you on word choice; you've provided very little context. That said, I'd be very cautious about using coteacher. For one, it's hard to find in a dictionary; for another, it could get confused with coteaching, which is not the same as "working at the same school as fellow faculty members on staff."
    – J.R.
    Jun 3, 2012 at 20:18
  • P.S. You can look at this link, too, but now we're getting dangerously close to that murky area of "general reference."
    – J.R.
    Jun 3, 2012 at 20:23

I would say faculty mate (sometimes hyphenated or closed) fits. Here's an example from a biography of a former president of Drew University, John F. Hurst, who earlier worked at "Hedding Literary Institute, Ashland, N.Y. to teach belles lettres; where... Catherine LaMonte, whom he married afterward, was a faculty mate."

In describing the TV show "Glee," The Ft. Lauderdale SunSentinal states that this about the high school teacher in charge of the glee club: "The only positive energy he gets comes from a shy faculty mate."

A NY Daily News interview with Tom Cooley, dean of NYU's Stern School of Business with whom he "he has a healthy difference of opinion with the doom and gloomers of his profession, notably bearish facultymate Nouriel Roubini" (Roubini is also in the Stern School).

I'll admit that the term is used considerably less than colleague, but one does have the option of being a bit more specific.

  • I have been considering going back to academe, but if I'm going to be called a 'faculty mate' I'll abandon it. Sep 20, 2012 at 20:24

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