In our line of work we often work with other companies as partners on some jobs, and then compete against them on other jobs. So they are partners and competitors. Is there a good term for this, along the lines of "frenemies"?

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    Someone with whom you engage in "co-opetition"? – Hellion Dec 21 '12 at 19:24
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    This feels like it's about to turn into a "bikeshed" type of question. Is there a way we can make this into something where everyone won't have an opinion? – Matt E. Эллен Dec 21 '12 at 23:24

On the theory that one should keep one's friends close, and one's enemies closer, the academic world uses the term Colleague for precisely the relationship you describe, as well as others.

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    I don't know if that was the intention on your part, but it made me laugh! I've always understood that in the academic (as opposed to the business) world, colleagues is as likely to mean enemies as friends. – FumbleFingers Dec 22 '12 at 0:00
  • "If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you." -- Oscar Wilde – John Lawler Dec 22 '12 at 0:12
  • Always tell the truth, but don't always be telling the truth (I've often been castigated with that one! :) – FumbleFingers Dec 22 '12 at 0:31
  • I don't think colleague works with companies. – coleopterist Dec 25 '12 at 4:07

I don't believe that there's any term such as frenemy that encapsulates the ideas of both partner and competitor when it comes to companies. You could perhaps choose from some of the more non-committal related terms such as:

On second thought, I suppose that only peer could be construed as completely neutral. But there you have it.


Since you have invoked the [portmanteau-words] (0 followers) I will suggest:


  • I was hoping I would get credit for creating this word but a web search shows otherwise. – Jack Ryan Aug 15 '13 at 17:09

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