I am looking for ways to describe collaboration in Latin. My main interest is scientific collaboration, if the type matters. I would like to have both a verb "to collaborate" and a noun "collaboration". These English words have obviously a Latin origin, but I have been unable to find collaborare or collaboratio in Latin dictionaries, so I assume they are not found in classical literature. Are there better words for this kind of thing? I prefer attested classical expressions, but later ones are also welcome.

4 Answers 4


For referring to a collaborator, have you thought of socius or adiutor? The latter does not necessarily imply a subordinate role and can quite well be used of equals in a partnership. Each has a wide range of application, but the sense is always of working together in the same enterprise.

To describe a collaboration on matters scientific, it's probably better to try working round the subject. This would allow you to use such words/phrases as una experire to imply the relationship between co-workers: e.g. Gaius et Marcus una operabantur.

None of this is in the way of objecting to collaborare, etc., which strike me as perfectly valid but not quite the thing for a scientific dissertation in proper classical style - if that's what you want.

  • Thanks! I think socius is an excellent word. It might be good to work around collaborare, but having such a verb available just in case is useful.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 14:26

I have found collaboro/collaborare in the Gaffiot (lit. work in concert) with reference to cum, laboro and Tertullian On Repentance :

Non potest corpus de unius membri vexatione laetum agere: condoleat universum et ad remedium conlaboret necesse est.

De Paenitentia, Tertulliani

A translation uses "join with one consent". The same dictionary provided collega (colleague) and collegarius (one of the colleagues), refering to cum, lego and noting conlega sapientae from Cicero's De natura deorum :

Metrodori vero, qui est Epicuri collega sapientiae, multa inpudentiora recitabat; accusat enim Timocratem, fratrem suum, Metrodorus, quod dubitet omnia, quae ad beatam vitam pertineant, ventre metiri, neque id semel dicit, sed saepius.

De natura deorum, Cicero

A translation says co-partner in philosophy, which feels like some colleague...

  • I am now convinced that collaborare (or conlaborare) is good, but collega might not be what I'm looking for. My understanding is that it is closer to "colleague" than "collaborators". For example, all mathematicians are my colleagues, but only few of them my collaborators.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 13:05
  • 1
    Finding a fitting word, good classical style but not prone to misunderstandings in modern use, is not easy. I'm hesitant with "associate" as well, since it is not clear (to me) if working together is involved. But if collaborare is fine, one should be able to derive collaborator, attested by itself or not. I'm not sure there is a better choice.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 4:33
  • 1
    @JoonasIlmavirta It exists later it seems, but duCange is completely obscure to me. It is indeed not easy. The association (adsocietas) may be too tight a partnership to describe what you mean...
    – user425
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 5:31

collaboro or conlaboro is also in L/S, with the same unique reference to the early Christian author Tertullian (who writes fairly decent classicising Latin). It is a correctly formed prefixed verb and I would think it mere chance that it is not attested in classical authors.



My suggestion may or may not fit the spirit of your question, but the Creator ineffabilis (Student's Prayer of Thomas Aquinas) is beautifully written and includes a request that God collaborate with the three stages of a student's work:

Ingressum instruas,
progressum dirigas,
egressum compleas.

These are all classically attested words (obviously), though they certainly are not stand-ins for the more prosaic "collaborate."

  • This is more in the spirit of a student-advisor collaboration than collaboration between peers. Not exactly what I looked for, but still useful.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 19:08

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