“Former colleague”: Here’s the correct referring method + 10 examples

English has quite a few “proper names” for things. But what should you call someone who you used to work with? Today, we’ll look at the official name to call a former colleague.

What is the correct term for “former colleague”?

“Former Colleague” doesn’t really have an official name. They should be called “former colleagues” in formal situations. Still, in more casual cases, you could call them “ex colleagues instead”.

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“Former Colleague” is for formal situations.

During formal conversations, you ought to refer to these people as “former colleagues”. Using the term “former” clarifies that the person you’re talking about is no longer your colleague.

Situations where you might use the term “former colleague” include when using a reference on your job application, when you’re talking to your boss, or when you’re in a court of law.

Speaking about who you used to work with could be beneficial in your current job. You can talk about what you learnt from your former colleagues or how you managed to help them.

5 examples of “former colleague”

“These ideas decide the responsibilities of the judge when a former colleague appears as counsel.”

“As a former colleague of ours (who has now become a governor) used to quote- it is great when conscience and convenience intersect in politics.”

“Does your former colleague Mr. Plant agree with what you are saying?”

“He says: “The appearance of our former colleague, Matt Smith, will be useful for these hearings.”

“Today we are delighted to welcome a former colleague, Edward Haroldson, who represented a district in California.”

“Ex-colleague” is for casual situations

In less formal situations, you don’t have to use the proper term “former”. Instead, you could just use the term “ex”. When talking with your mates down the pub, you might say “my ex colleague just got a really good new job”.

However, there are times when you need to be careful with the term “ex”. Usually, when we refer to our “ex”, we’re talking about somebody we used to date, not work with.

But, so long as you quickly clarify that you’re talking about an ex-colleague instead of an ex-partner, you should be fine. Just make sure to refer to them as “former” when you’re in a formal situation.

5 examples of “ex-colleague”

“An ex-colleague of mine became super famous when the following happened, the story that spread through the town like wildfire.

“I’m glad I am still in contact with my ex colleague Matthew Smith and he’s willing to lend a helping hand.”

“Yes, an ex colleague did a gardening design course with the Royal Flower society, so she would’ve been an apprentice.”

“I’m a bit worried to find that I am still followed on Twitter by an ex colleague of mine – John Jones. He passed away almost 5 years ago.”

“What a small world. My ex colleague is getting married to my ex wife.”

Alternatives to “former colleague”

“I’m a bit worried to find that I am still followed on Twitter by some I used to work with – John Pechell. He died almost 10 years ago.”

“A past workmate of mine became very popular by the following occurrence, the tale of which spread through the school like wildfire.”

“Is  your former business partner Mr Butler in agreement with what you are saying?”

“Yes, my previous office neighbour did a garden/Horti design course with the RHS so she would’ve been a trainee.”

New job, old memories, and memoirs: When you might talk about former colleagues

When you start a new job, you may need to talk about people you used to work with. This could be for a reference. Or when you’re talking about what you learnt from the people you used to work with.

When an ex-colleague does something noteworthy, you might want to tell your friends about it during a casual conversation.

And finally, should you ever write a memoir, or autobiography, you will likely talk about the people you used to work with. These are the people who have probably made a significant impact on your life.


And now you know that the official word for “former colleague” is just “former colleague”. But, when you don’t need to be official, you can get away with saying “ex colleague”.

But, whichever word you use, you’re talking about the same thing. Somebody who you used to work with but no longer do. And now you know when to call them “former” and when to call them “ex” colleagues.