What is the Latin word used for a fellow of a college or an academic society? In particular, are there attested uses somewhere to be found? I am looking for a translation of "fellow" which is or has been in actual use. I have come up with words that I would happily use (comes, socius, and collega), but I have no idea of any traditional choices.


The proper word for 'fellow' seems to be socius, at least according to John G. Griffith, the former Public Orator at Oxford University (1973-80) and Fellow and Tutor in Classics, Jesus College (1938-80). Here are a couple of instances from his Oratiunculae Oxonienses Selectae of 1985. Note that socius is distinct from sodalis, which is a mere member:

Mihi summo est gaudio vobis praesentare Anatolium Abragam, Academiae Franco-Gallicae sodalem et Collegii Iesu et Collegii Mertonensis socium honoris causa creatum, ut admittatur ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia honoris causa.

[vir] summae modestiae et pietatis, qui Collegii Mertonensis socius honoris causa creatus Horatianum illud ‘hoc erat in votis: nil amplius oro’ Anglice enuntiavisse traditur. . . .

And from a similar source, Anthony Bowen, the Orator of Cambridge (1993-2007), a feminine example:

Praesento vobis Doctorem in Philosopia, Aulae Novae Sociam honoris causa adscitam, SUSANNAM JOCELYN BELL BURNELL

I can think of no better authorities!

  • 2
    These are indeed the best authorities one could hope for! I am also glad to be reminded that it is not only socius, but also socia.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Feb 8 '18 at 13:49
  • On the title page of the 1687 edition of Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica, he is called 'Societatis Regalis Sodali(s)'. This would mean he was a 'mere member' of the Royal Society, if there was a difference between sodalis and socius in the Royal Society.
    – Jasper May
    May 4 '18 at 21:58
  • 1
    @Jasper May It seems too much to compare the Royal Society's usage at its founding to the modern nomenclature of Fellow and Member. In Newton's day the organisation was so small, and the idea of the RS so novel, that the need for the distinction might not have yet arisen.
    – Tom Cotton
    May 5 '18 at 9:21

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