Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English felowe, felau, felawe, Early Middle English felage (person in another’s company or society, acquaintance, associate, companion; close companion, good friend; spiritual companion; drinking companion, reveller; sociable person; intercessor, mediator; chap, man; person of low social status; servant, slave; contemptible person; used to address one’s social inferior in a friendly or condescending manner; colleague, co-worker; business partner; criminal accomplice or accessory; member of an organized group of associates (for example, a fellow of a college; fellow citizen; member of a craft or guild; monk, nun); consort, spouse; mate of an animal; opponent in combat; champion, defender; equal, peer; animal in a flock, herd, etc.; object which is part of a set) [and other forms],[1] from Old English feolaga, from Old Norse félagi (associate, colleague; companion; spouse; shareholder; fellow), from félag (joint venture; partnership, literally a laying together of property), from (cattle; livestock (especially sheep); money; property) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *peḱ- (livestock; wealth)) + lag (something laid down; layer, stratum; due place, right position; arrangement; companionship, fellowship; partnership) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *legʰ- (to be in a resting position, to lie)).[2]


fellow (plural fellows)

  1. (chiefly in the plural, also figuratively) A companion; a comrade.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:associate
  2. (chiefly in the plural) An animal which is a member of a breed or species, or a flock, herd, etc.
    • 1659, T[itus] Livius [i.e., Livy], “[Book I]”, in Philemon Holland, transl., The Romane Historie [], London: [] W. Hunt, for George Sawbridge, [], OCLC 12997447, page 6:
      But as ſome of the Oxen in driving, miſſed their fellovvs behind and honing after them, bellovved as their nature is: Hercules chanced to heare them lovv again, and anſvver from out of the cave vvherein they had been beſtovved: vvhereat he turned back, and made haſte thither.
    • 1692, Roger L’Estrange, “[The Fables of Abstemius, &c.] Fab[le] CCCXXX. A Sheep-biter Hang’d.”, in Fables, of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists: [], London: [] R[ichard] Sare, [], OCLC 228727523, page 287:
      A Certain Shepherd had One Favourite-Dog, that he had a Particular Confidence in above all the reſt. He fed him vvith his Ovvn hand, and took more Care of him, in ſhort, then of any of his Fellovvs.
  3. (chiefly in the plural) An object which is associated with another object; especially, as part of a set.
  4. (also attributively) A person or thing comparable in characteristics with another person or thing; especially, as belonging to the same class or group.
    my fellow Americans
    Rebecca and her fellow workers are to go on strike.
    • 1607, attributed to Thomas Middleton or Cyril Tourneur, The Revengers Tragædie. [], London: [] G[eorge] Eld, [], OCLC 1171418461, Act I:
      Indeed he vvas a vvorthy Gentleman / Had his eſtate beene fellovv to his mind.
    • 1680, John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That which is to Come: [], 5th edition, Edinburgh: [] Iohn Cairns, [], OCLC 15598886, pages 85–86:
      He that ſhall die there, although his death will be unnatural, and his pain perhaps great, he will yet have the better of his fellow; not only becauſe he will be arrived at the Cœleſtial City ſooneſt, but becauſe he will eſcape many miſeries that the other will meet with in the reſt of his journey.
    • 1887, James Francis Hogan, “Preface”, in The Irish in Australia, London: Ward & Downey, [], OCLC 81343284:
      It is now some five years since I conceived the idea of writing a history of my fellow-countrymen in Australasia, but it was only within the last year or two that I could find sufficient time to make any material progress with the undertaking, although I had been collecting the materials for some period in advance.
    • 1901 July, Mrs. Arthur Lyttelton [i.e., Kathleen Lyttelton], “Professions”, in Women and Their Work, London: Methuen & Co. [], OCLC 2453505, page 112:
      There are journalists who work for a low rate of pay, just as there are poor women who take in needlework at a cheaper rate than their fellows, and they are alike making life more difficult for other women.
    • 2019, Anna Stilz, “Legitimacy and Self-determination”, in Territorial Sovereignty: A Philosophical Exploration, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, part II (Self-determination), page 99:
      An important part of treating others as independent persons involves respecting them as autonomous deliberators, who can reason for themselves how to act. Yet our imagined neighbor is insensitive to the need to engage her fellows in this way. She does not offer them any reasons that might lead them to share her point of view about what justice requires, nor does she inquire into, or respond to, their reasons for not sharing it.
    • 2020 December 2, Paul Bigland, “My Weirdest and Wackiest Rover Yet”, in Rail, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire: Bauer Media, ISSN 0953-4563, OCLC 999467860, page 68:
      My fellow passengers are a mixture of people returning from a day out in the capital, locals doing short hops, and a few (like me) heading farther afield.
    1. (chiefly in the negative) A person with abilities, achievements, skills, etc., equal to those of another person; a thing with characteristics, worth, etc., equal to those of another thing.
      to be without fellow    to have no fellows
    2. (chiefly in the plural) One in the same condition, or situation of need, as another.
    3. (archaic, chiefly in the plural)
      1. An equal in character, power, rank, etc.; a peer.
      2. A person living at the same time, or about the same age as another, especially when in the same field of study or work.
  5. Often in the form Fellow: academic senses.
    1. Originally, one of a group of academics who make up a college or similar educational institution; now, a senior member of a college or similar educational institution involved in teaching, research, and management of the institution.
      • 1655, Thomas Fuller, “Section II. To Matthew Gillye, Esquire.”, in James Nichols, editor, The Church History of Britain, [], volume III, new edition, London: [] [James Nichols] for Thomas Tegg and Son, [], published 1837, OCLC 913056315, book X, subsection 19–24 (An Act for Chelsea College. []), page 235:
        In the Parliament now sitting at Westminster, (in whose parallel Convocation nothing of consequence,) the most remarkable thing enacted was the Act made to enable the Provost and Fellows of Chelsea College to dig a trench out of the river Lea; []
      • 1691, [Anthony Wood], “JOHN STANBRIDGE”, in Athenæ Oxonienses. An Exact History of All the Writers and Bishops who have had Their Education in the Most Ancient and Famous University of Oxford from the Fifteenth Year of King Henry the Seventh, Dom. 1500, to the End of the Year 1690. [], volume I (Extending to the 16th Year of King Charles I. Dom. 1640), London: [] Tho[mas] Bennet [], OCLC 940079791, column 17:
        One Thomas Stanbridge, [] vvho dying 1522, left ſeveral Books to the Coll. of vvhich he had been Fellovv; vvhich, if I miſtake not, vvas Magd[alen] College.
      • 1849, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter VIII, in The History of England from the Accession of James II, volume II, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, OCLC 1069526323, page 289:
        The fellows [of Magdalene College, Cambridge] were, by the statutes which their founder had drawn up, empowered to select their own president from among persons who were, or had been, fellows either of their society or of New College.
    2. An honorary title bestowed by a college or university upon a distinguished person (often an alumna or alumnus).
    3. A (senior) member of a learned or professional society.
      a Fellow of the Royal Society
      1. (specifically, Britain, historical) A senior member of an Inn of Court.
        • 1691, [Anthony Wood], “WILLIAM BLANDIE”, in Athenæ Oxonienses. An Exact History of All the Writers and Bishops who have had Their Education in the Most Ancient and Famous University of Oxford from the Fifteenth Year of King Henry the Seventh, Dom. 1500, to the End of the Year 1690. [], volume I (Extending to the 16th Year of King Charles I. Dom. 1640), London: [] Tho[mas] Bennet [], OCLC 940079791, columns 147–148:
          About the ſame time he vvent to London, became Fellovv of the Middle Temple, and aftervvards tranſlated from Lat. to Engliſh The five Books of Hieronimus Oſorius, containing a diſcourſe of Civil and Chriſtian Nobility, Lond. 1576. qu[arto].
    4. (chiefly Britain) A scholar appointed to a fellowship, that is, a paid academic position held for a certain period which usually requires the scholar to conduct research.
    5. (Canada, US) A physician undergoing a fellowship (supervised subspecialty medical training) after having completed a residency (specialty training program).
    6. (US) A member of a college or university who manages its business interests.
    7. (US) A senior researcher or technician in a corporation, especially one engaged in research and development.
  6. (informal) A male person; a bloke, a chap, a guy, a man; also, preceded by a modifying word, sometimes with a sense of mild reproach: used as a familiar term of address to a man.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:man
    my dear fellow    old fellow
  7. (rare) Usually qualified by an adjective or used in the plural: an individual or person regardless of gender.
    • 1840 April – 1841 November, Charles Dickens, “Chapter the Thirty-fifth”, in The Old Curiosity Shop. A Tale. [], volume I, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1841, OCLC 1109979921, page 298:
      [H]e would sometimes reward her with a hearty slap on the back, and protest that she was a devilish good fellow, a jolly dog, and so forth; all of which compliments Miss Sally would receive in entire good part and with perfect satisfaction.
    • 1860 December – 1861 August, Charles Dickens, chapter XVII, in Great Expectations [], volume II, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published October 1861, OCLC 3359935, page 287:
      The cut of her dress from the waist upward, both before and behind, made her figure very like a boy's kite; and I might have pronounced her gown a little too decidedly-orange, and her gloves a little too intensely green. But she seemed to be a good sort of fellow, and showed a high regard for the Aged.
    • 1897, Bram Stoker, chapter V, in Dracula, New York, N.Y.: Modern Library, OCLC 688657546, page 64:
      Lucy, you are an honest-hearted girl, I know. I should not be here speaking to you as I am now if I did not believe you clean grit, right through to the very depths of your soul. Tell me, like one good fellow to another, is there any one else that you care for?
    • 1915, Laura Lee Hope [pseudonym], “The Great Marine Film”, in The Moving Picture Girls at Sea: Or A Pictured Shipwreck that Became Real, Cleveland, Oh.; New York, N.Y.: The World Syndicate Publishing Co., OCLC 3388799, page 3:
      Not that the girl on the couch, with closed eyes, was unrefined. But there was a wholesome air of good health about her that caused one to think of a "jolly good fellow," rather than a girl who needed to be helped on and off trolley cars.
    • 1919 February 10, H[arold] A[lbert] Lamb, “Call of the Caribbean”, in People’s Favorite Magazine, volume XXIX, number 4, New York, N.Y.: Street & Smith Corporation, OCLC 645140894, chapter VI, page 97, column 2:
      I had been studying the strange girl. [] / "What kind fellow this Mary?" I asked him. / Johnny Gorai shook his beflowered head vigorously. At the same time a crafty gleam crept into his faded eyes. / "What for Johnny Gorai know 'em good fellow Mary?" he asked in the bêche de mer which passed with him for English. / "Don't lie to me," I said. "You know 'em this fellow woman—or you've heard of her. Who is she?"
  8. (by extension, often humorous or ironic) An animal or object.
  9. (archaic)
    1. One of a pair of things suited to each other or used together; a counterpart, a mate.
      1. Originally (obsolete), a person's partner (of either sex) in life or marriage; a spouse; also, the mate of an animal; now (dated), a person's male lover or partner; a boyfriend; a husband.
    2. (Australian Aboriginal) Alternative form of fella (used as a general intensifier)
  10. (obsolete)
    1. A colleague or partner.
      • 1631, Francis [Bacon], “III. Century. [Experiment Solitary Touching the Like Operations of Heat, and Time.]”, in Sylua Syluarum: Or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centuries. [], 3rd edition, London: [] VVilliam Rawley; [p]rinted by J[ohn] H[aviland] for William Lee [], paragraph 294, page 76, OCLC 1044372886:
        Time, and Heat, are Fellovves in many Effects. Heat drieth Bodies, that doe eaſily expire; As Parchment, Leaues, Roots, Clay, &c. And, ſo doth Time or Age arefie; []
      1. (specifically, also figuratively) An associate in the commission of a crime or other wrongful act; an accomplice.
    2. A close companion or friend; also, a companion or friend whom one eats or drinks with.
    3. Followed by of: one who participates in an activity; a participant.
    4. A man without good breeding or of lower social status; a common or ignoble man; also, used as a polite term of address to such a person.
    5. A person's servant or slave.
      • c. 1580, Philippe Sidnei [i.e., Philip Sidney], “[The First Booke] Chapter 19”, in Fulke Greville, Matthew Gwinne, and John Florio, editors, The Covntesse of Pembrokes Arcadia [The New Arcadia], London: [] [John Windet] for William Ponsonbie, published 1590, OCLC 801077108; republished in Albert Feuillerat, editor, The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia (Cambridge English Classics: The Complete Works of Sir Philip Sidney; I), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: University Press, 1912, OCLC 318419127, page 125:
        But before al of them were assembled to begin their sports, there came a fellow, who being out of breath (or seeming so to be for haste) with humble hastines told Basilius, that his Mistres, the Lady Cecropia, had sent him to excuse the mischance of her beastes ranging in that dãgerous sort, being happened by the folly of the keeper; []
    6. (derogatory) A worthless person; a churl, a knave; also, used as a term of address to a person regarded as such.
    7. (UK, slang) Synonym of schoolmate (a student at the same school)
      • 1991, Stephen Fry, chapter III, in The Liar, London: William Heinemann, →ISBN, page 26:
        Adrian thought it worth while to try out his new slang. ‘I say, you fellows, here's a rum go. Old Biffo was jolly odd this morning. He gave me a lot of pi-jaw about slacking and then invited me to tea. No rotting! He did really.’
    8. (chiefly Southern US, derogatory) A black man.
Usage notesEdit
  • As regards sense 6 (“male person”), in North America the word is less likely to be used in comparison to other words that have the same purpose, such as chap or guy.
  • As regards sense 7 (“an individual or person regardless of gender”), where the word is used for a female person, it may allude to the person having some masculine attributes.
Derived termsEdit
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.

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English felauen, felow (to join (someone) in companionship, friendship, partnership, etc.) [and other forms],[3] from felowe, felau, felawe (noun): see etymology 1.[4]


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

  1. (transitive)
    1. (archaic) To address (someone) as "fellow", especially in an insulting manner (see noun sense 10.6).
      • 1751 December (indicated as 1752), Henry Fielding, “Which Inclines Rather to Satir than Panegyric”, in Amelia, volume III, London: [] [William Strahan] for A[ndrew] Millar [], OCLC 1159707239, book VIII, page 161:
        'Don't Fellovv me,' ſaid the Bailiff, 'I am as good a Fellovv as yourſelf, I believe, tho' you have that Ribbond in your Hat there.'
      • 1837, [Edward Bulwer-Lytton], chapter IX, in Ernest Maltravers [] , volume II, London: Saunders and Otley, [], OCLC 1181337800, book IV, page 108:
        "I dare say—I dare day—my good fellow." / "Fellow not me—I won't be fellowed now; I say I have the best of it here—man to man—I am your match."
    2. (chiefly passive, poetic, archaic) To equal (someone or something); also, to cause or find someone or something to be equal to (some other person or thing).
      • 1648, J[oseph] Hall, chapter C, in Select Thoughts: Or, Choice Helps for a Pious Spirit. [], London: [] Nath[aniel] Brooke, [], published 1654, OCLC 1227561436, pages 294–295:
        For my part, let me rather affect and applaud the harmleſs humor of that miſ-called Saint, vvho in an indiſcreet humility called every VVoolf his brother, and every Sheep, yea, every Ant his ſiſter, fellovving himſelf vvith every thing that had life in it, as vvell as himſelf; []
    3. (obsolete)
      1. To pair or suit (someone or something) with some other person or thing; also, to pair or suit someone or something with (some other person or thing); to arrange (things) in pairs.
      2. (also reflexive) Followed by to or with: to associate or join (oneself, someone, or something) with some other person or thing in companionship or a partnership.
        • 1562–1565 (date written), Thomas Smyth [i.e., Thomas Smith], “The First Sort or Beginning of an House or Familie Called οἰκονομία”, in De Republica Anglorum. The Maner of Gouernement or Policie of the Realme of England, [], London: [] Henrie Midleton for Gregorie Seton, published 1583, OCLC 1191007197, pages 12–13:
          [A] man by nature is rather deſirous to fellow him ſelfe to another and ſo to liue in couple, than to adherd[sic – meaning adhere?] himſelfe with many.
      3. (chiefly passive, sometimes reflexive) Followed by to or with: to cause or portray (someone or something) to be equal to some other person or thing.
      4. (poetic) To associate or go together with (someone or something); to become a partner of (someone or something).
        • c. 1610–1611, William Shakespeare, “The VVinters Tale”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene ii], page 278, column 2:
          Affection? thy Intention ſtabs the Center. / Thou do'ſt make poſſible things not ſo held, / Communicat'ſt vvith Dreames (hovv can this be?) / VVith vvhat's vnreall: thou coactiue art, / And fellow'ſt nothing.
          Affection! Your intention stabs the heart. / You do make possible things not so held, / Communicate with dreams (how can this be?). / You are coactive with what's unreal / And associate with nothing.
        • 1628, I[oseph] F[letcher], “The Blessed Man, Setting-forth Mans Felicitie, in that His Regeneration is Procured”, in The Historie of the Perfect-Cursed-Blessed Man: [], London: [] M[iles] Flesher, [], OCLC 1049026426, page 57:
          Some fevv there vvere left all to follovv Him: / Eſteeming all to baſe to fellovv Him: / And joyfully receiv'd Him as their Lord, / Deriving their ſalvation from his VVord, []
  2. (intransitive, poetic, obsolete) Followed by with: to associate or join with a person or thing in companionship or a partnership.
    • a. 1633 (date written), Thomas Dekker, The Wonder of a Kingdome, London: [] Robert Raworth for Nicholas Vavasour, [], published 1636, OCLC 947908421, Act IV:
      VVhere is the gentleman? 't vvas for his ſake / I vvould have lien vvith you, vvo'd it vvere as lavvfull to fellovv nights vvith him.


  1. ^ fē̆lau(e, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ fellow, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022; “fellow, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  3. ^ fē̆lauen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  4. ^ fellow, v.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022.

Further readingEdit




fellow m or f (plural fellows)

  1. (education) fellow