The two words are more similar in sound and meaning that the Latin "conferre". Not knowing Latin I would like a brief explanation of how "collate" comes from "conferre."

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    I’m voting to close this question because it is just a random etymology question based on very, very superficial similarity. Unfortunately, there are potentially a lot of such questions and there are low-quality correspondence lists circulating on the internet. Nov 14, 2022 at 13:17
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    Thank you all. My question is answered. I apologize if it was to superficial for this cite. I am certainly no linguist but am trying to learn. Nov 14, 2022 at 15:06
  • Feel free to do so. My question was answered. First time in this group so just learning. Sorry if it is to superficial I understand you reasoning now. Nov 14, 2022 at 15:07
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    Hi Larry, glad we can be of help. If you find that your question answered to your satisfaction, make sure to upvote it and click the green check mark indicating that your problem is now solved. Let me know if you have further questions about that.
    – cmw
    Nov 14, 2022 at 17:22

2 Answers 2


It's pure coincidence. The base word is fero, ferre ("I bring, to bring"), but in the past tense it's tuli ("I brought") and the past participle is latus ("brought").

If the word looks a bit weird, it's because two stems merged. We have a similar word in English that that happened to: the verb 'go', which is formed from 'go' in the present tense but from 'went' in the past tense.

Conferre is this word with the prefix con- ("together") attached to it. Before certain letters, the -n- will assimilate and change into the following letter. L is one of those, so before latus, the con- changes to col-.

The principle parts for this word is constructed in the same way as the base:

confero, conferre, contuli, collatus

Note that the assimilation is a historical process, and you will also see conlatus represented in certain authors.

Moreover, the English collate is further represented by the noun collation, which is directly from the Latin collatio, collationis (or with con- in some authors). And that final -e in collate is typical of dropped Latin endings (compare: iratus -> irate; marinus -> marine). Whereas that final -e is missing from Hebrew borrowings (think hanukkah, not hanukke).

Meanwhile, the Hebrew qoheleth isn't even a verb, like collate is, but a noun meaning something like "one who assembles" or "one who speaks before the assembly". The root word there is QHL. If it were borrowed in English, it would have looked very similar to the actual Hebrew word, as most Hebrew borrowings are.

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    The latin expression "relata refero" is a good compact example: re+latus re+fero, "I tell what I've been told".
    – Vorbis
    Nov 14, 2022 at 8:41
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    Very helpful. I know just enough about several languages to be dangerous (i.e. ask questions that can be annoying.) Thank you for your kind response. Nov 14, 2022 at 15:13

To expand a bit more on cmw's entirely correct answer: ferō in Latin is what's called a suppletive verb. It's a verb that's taken some of its forms from one root, and some of its forms from another root; these usually result from defective verbs (verbs that are missing some of their forms) when they're used commonly enough that those forms are needed.

English has a few of these, like how there are no past-tense forms of the root "go". But since we use the verb "go" so often, people made do with the past tense of "wend" (as in "wend your way") to fill in the gaps, and so now we say "he goes" but "she went". That's also why "be", "is", and "was" look so different from each other: they were originally different verbs!

In Latin, ferō "bear" had no commonly-used past-tense forms, so the past forms of tollō "support" were used instead: originally tulī and tlātus. Then at some point in the history of Latin, tl simplified to l, and it became lātus. When the prefix con- "together" was stuck onto this, it assimilated: con-lātus > collātus (compare how in- + legible becomes illegible).

Since QHL is also a fairly well-attested Semitic root, I see no way this could have been borrowed from one language to another. It's possible one form influenced another in translation at some point—"I'm translating the Latin word collātiō into Hebrew, why not use the Hebrew word that sounds kind of like collātio"—but this isn't the same as being related. And the meanings are different enough that I wouldn't expect this sort of translation (technically called a "phono-semantic matching") to have happened except in odd edge cases where their meanings happen to align.

  • It doesn't sound right to say there are no past-tense forms of "go". "Went" is the past tense form of "go".
    – TKR
    Nov 13, 2022 at 17:54
  • @TKR Rephrased: "there are no past-tense forms of the root 'go'."
    – Draconis
    Nov 13, 2022 at 18:14

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