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Recorded since c.1378, from Old French, from Medieval Latin collaterālis, from Latin col- (together with) (a form of con-) + the stem of latus (side). Not related to collate and collation.



collateral (not comparable)

  1. Parallel, along the same vein, side by side.
  2. Corresponding; accompanying, concomitant.
    • Wordsworth
      Yet the attempt may give / Collateral interest to this homely tale.
  3. Being aside from the main subject, target, or goal; tangential, subordinate, ancillary.
    Although not a direct cause, the border skirmish was certainly a collateral incitement for the war.
    collateral damage
    • Macaulay
      That he [Atterbury] was altogether in the wrong on the main question, and on all the collateral questions springing out of it, [] is true.
  4. Of an indirect ancestral relationship, as opposed to lineal descendency.
    Uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces are collateral relatives.
    • 1885, Richard Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, volume 5:
      The pure blood all descends from five collateral lines called Al-Khamsah (the Cinque).
  5. Relating to a collateral in the sense of an obligation or security.
  6. Expensive to the extent of being paid through a loan.
  7. Coming or directed along the side.
    collateral pressure
    • Shakespeare
      collateral light
  8. Acting in an indirect way.
    • Shakespeare
      If by direct or by collateral hand / They find us touched, we will our kingdom give [] / To you in satisfaction.
  9. (biology, of a vascular bundle) Having the phloem and xylem adjacent

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English Wikipedia has an article on:

collateral (countable and uncountable, plural collaterals)

  1. A security or guarantee (usually an asset) pledged for the repayment of a loan if one cannot procure enough funds to repay. (Originally supplied as "accompanying" security.)
    • 2016, Otmar Issing, former ECB chief economist: Euro 'house of cards' to collapse, warns ECB prophet
      "The decline in the quality of eligible collateral is a grave problem. The ECB is now buying corporate bonds that are close to junk, and the haircuts can barely deal with a one-notch credit downgrade. The reputational risk of such actions by a central bank would have been unthinkable in the past."
  2. (now rare) A collateral (not linear) family member.
  3. A branch of a bodily part or system of organs.
    Besides the arteries blood streams through numerous veins we call collaterals
  4. (marketing) Printed materials or content of electronic media used to enhance sales of products (short form of collateral material).
  5. A thinner blood vessel providing an alternate route to blood flow in case the main vessel becomes occluded.
  6. (archaic) A contemporary or rival.


  • (an asset to guarantee the repayment of a loan): pledge

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

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