In this article I read that:

Fellow – Avoid using "fellow" when you mean "a person." Calling someone a fellow is more formal than calling him or her a dude, but "fellow" is still a colloquialism.

This question ensures that "fellow student" is correct, but I need to know whether it is formal usage or not.

I am writing a formal application and want to refer to a fellow university student.

Should I use "fellow student" or do I have a better choice?

  • 5
    "Fellow student" is just fine. "A fellow I know" is not. "Come hither, fellow" is rude, but chances are nobody will know. Oct 5, 2012 at 22:58
  • 5
    The article is talking about the noun. You are asking about the adjective. It expressly says to avoid fellow when you mean "a person". You do not mean "a person". You mean "of the same group".
    – RegDwigнt
    Oct 5, 2012 at 23:14
  • 5
    The "Fellows of the {various} Royal Societies" probably wouldn't consider that to be an "informal" designation. Oct 5, 2012 at 23:35
  • Thank you @StoneyB and @RegDwighт♦ You fully covered me.
    – LyK
    Oct 5, 2012 at 23:36

1 Answer 1


As per ODO, only one of the definitions of fellow is considered informal:

(informal) a man or boy:

he was an extremely obliging fellow

Other uses are fine:

he was learning with a rapidity unique among his fellows

a fellow of the Geological Society

they urged the troops not to fire on their fellow citizens

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