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  1. keannu's Avatar
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    #1

    coworker vs colleague

    What is the difference between "coworker" and "colleague"? There seems to be little difference, but I've heard "coworker" more.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: coworker vs colleague

    I use only 'colleague'. 'Coworker' seems to me to be more common in AmE. I don't think there is any difference.

  3. keannu's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: coworker vs colleague

    I tried to add a writing where a woman called her coworkers in her company's executive meeting "colleagues", and the following definition quite doesn't match the writing, so I think you are absolutely right.
    an Internet opinion =colleagues are people who work in the same field as you -- like teachers not working at your school or police officers who work in other districts or other places -- for co-workers --- people you work with at your place of work those are your co-workers because they work in the same place as you.

  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: coworker vs colleague

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    ...
    an Internet opinion =colleagues are people who work in the same field as you -- like teachers not working at your school or police officers who work in other districts or other places -- for co-workers --- people you work with at your place of work those are your co-workers because they work in the same place as you.
    I've met this explanation. It has a certain neatness, and some people may observe that distinction because they are convinced by the argument - perhaps after learning it as an EFL/ESOL student. But it smacks to me of something invented to explain away a Br E/Am E distinction.

    b

  5. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: coworker vs colleague

    I never use coworker, because I don't like unclear words that look like they mean there are cows being orked.

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    #6

    Re: coworker vs colleague

    [AmE - not a teacher]

    I tend to use coworker, especially in day-to-day situations. I might use colleague when addressing a group, in a semi-formal situation. IMO, the use of coworker will switch over to colleague the higher up the ladder you go. You won't find a chairperson referring to the board of directors as "coworkers".

    Also, "colleague" can be used as euphemism, in the case where two parties are, or tend to be, at disagreement, as in, “I respectfully disagree with our colleague from <the opposing political camp>.”

  6. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: coworker vs colleague

    Until this thread, I wasn't aware that "coworker" wasn't used outside the US. I do tend to think of colleagues as people I am literally working with (in my department, on a project, in a similar field) while coworkers are simply in the same company.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  7. FreeToyInside's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: coworker vs colleague

    I completely agree with the internet opinion. In AmE a coworker is someone in the same company and probably building, but not necessarily the same position. A colleague is in your same field, in particular a professional field (law, education, medicine, etc). You're not likely to hear a delivery driver or janitor refer to other drivers and janitors as their colleagues, but those working in the same company and location are their coworkers.


    (not a teacher, just a language lover)

  8. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: coworker vs colleague

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    I tried to add a writing where a woman called her coworkers in her company's executive meeting "colleagues", and the following definition quite doesn't match the writing, so I think you are absolutely right.
    an Internet opinion =colleagues are people who work in the same field as you -- like teachers not working at your school or police officers who work in other districts or other places -- for co-workers --- people you work with at your place of work those are your co-workers because they work in the same place as you.
    When I worked for the Civil Service, we used the word "colleague" more often than any other for this context. However, when we did wish to differentiate between people we would say that co-workers were the people in our own office and colleagues were people in the same department of the Civil Service regardless of where they worked.

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    #10

    Re: coworker vs colleague

    In
    AmE
    a coworker is someone in the same company and probably building, but not necessarily the same position. A colleague is in your same field, in particular a professional field (law, education, medicine, etc).
    I agree. I may refer to another in a similar position to myself as a colleague, especially if speaking to people outside of the company. I would not refer to one of the factory workers or maintenance staff as "colleague," but "co-worker."

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