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From Middle English felowe, felawe, felage, from Old Norse félagi (companion, associate, shareholder, colleague), from félag (partnership, literally a laying together of property), from the Germanic bases of two words represented in English by fee and law. Cognate with Scots falow, fallow, follow (associate, comrade, companion), Danish fælle (companion), Norwegian felle (companion), Faroese felagi (member, partner), Icelandic félagi (comrade, mate).



fellow (plural fellows)

  1. (obsolete) A colleague or partner.
  2. (archaic) A companion; a comrade.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book I”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker [] [a]nd by Robert Boulter [] [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554:
      Cruel his eye, but cast
      Signs of remorse and passion to behold
      The fellows of his crime
    • c. 1605–1608, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Tymon of Athens”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene ii], page 90, column 1:
      [W]e are Fellowes ſtill, / Seruing alike in ſorrow: [...]
    • (Can we date this quote by Edward Gibbon as well as title, page, and other details?)
      That enormous engine was flanked by two fellows almost of equal magnitude.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter II, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314, page 0147:
      Carried somehow, somewhither, for some reason, on these surging floods, were these travelers, of errand not wholly obvious to their fellows, yet of such sort as to call into query alike the nature of their errand and their own relations.
  3. A man without good breeding or worth; an ignoble or mean man.
    • (Can we date this quote by Alexander Pope as well as title, page, and other details?)
      Worth makes the man, and want of it, the fellow.
  4. An equal in power, rank, character, etc.
  5. One of a pair, or of two things used together or suited to each other; a mate.
    • (Can we date this quote by Philemon Holland as well as title, page, and other details?)
      When they be but heifers of one year, [] they are let go to the fellow and breed.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene viii]:
      This was my glove; here is the fellow of it.
  6. (colloquial) A male person; a man.
    • 1910, Saki, ‘The Strategist’, Reginald in Russia:
      ‘There'll be about ten girls,’ speculated Rollo, as he drove to the function, ‘and I suppose four fellows, unless the Wrotsleys bring their cousin, which Heaven forbid.’
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      “A very welcome, kind, useful present, that means to the parish. By the way, Hopkins, let this go no further. We don't want the tale running round that a rich person has arrived. Churchill, my dear fellow, we have such greedy sharks, and wolves in lamb's clothing. []
  7. (rare) A person; an individual, male or female.
    • (Can we date this quote by Charles Dickens as well as title, page, and other details?)
      She seemed to be a good sort of fellow.
  8. (Britain slang, obsolete) Synonym of schoolmate: a student at the same school.
  9. (heading) A rank or title in the professional world, usually given as "Fellow".
    1. In the English universities, a scholar who is appointed to a foundation called a fellowship, which gives a title to certain perquisites and privileges.
    2. In an American college or university, a member of the corporation which manages its business interests; also, a graduate appointed to a fellowship, who receives the income of the foundation.
    3. A member of a literary or scientific society
      a Fellow of the Royal Society
    4. The most senior rank or title one can achieve on a technical career in certain companies (though some Fellows also hold business titles such as Vice President or Chief Technology Officer). This is typically found in large corporations in research and development-intensive industries (IBM or Sun Microsystems in information technology, and Boston Scientific in Medical Devices for example). They appoint a small number of senior scientists and engineers as Fellows.
    5. In the US and Canada, a physician who is undergoing a supervised, sub-specialty medical training (fellowship) after completing a specialty training program (residency).
  10. (Aboriginal English) Used as a general intensifier
    • 1991, Jimmy Chi, Bran Nue Dae, in Heiss & Minter, Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature, Allen & Unwin 2008, p. 137:
      This fella song all about the Aboriginal people, coloured people, black people longa Australia.

Usage notesEdit

In North America, fellow is less likely to be used for a man in general in comparison to other words that have the same purpose. Nevertheless, it is still used by some. In addition, it has a good bit of use as an academic or medical title or membership.



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.

Derived termsEdit


fellow (not comparable)

  1. Having common characteristics; being of the same kind, or in the same group
    Roger and his fellow workers are to go on strike.


fellow (third-person singular simple present fellows, present participle fellowing, simple past and past participle fellowed)

  1. To suit with; to pair with; to match.