10 Ways to Refer to a “Former Colleague”

Leaving a workplace is normal. You might look upon your time spent there with your coworkers with fondness. But how do you refer to the people who were your coworkers? “Former colleague” is one way.

However, this article will provide you with several different synonyms you can use instead.

Here are some alternatives that you can use:

  • Former co-worker
  • Ex-colleague
  • Old colleague
  • Previous colleague
  • Old associate
  • Ex-associate
  • Former associate
  • Ex-partner
  • Former partner
  • Old partner

The best ways to refer to a former colleague are “former co-worker”, “ex-colleague” and “old colleague”. These three phrases do a great job of expressing how you used to work with someone and no longer do.

Ways to Refer to a Former Colleague

1. Former Co-worker

A great alternative phrase you can use is “former co-worker”. By using the word “co-worker” instead of “colleague”, you’re emphasizing that you shared a workplace.

This is, therefore, a great phrase to use to point out that you know someone. It’s the best alternative to use instead of “former colleague”.

Here are some example sentences that you can use:

  • She’s my former co-worker, we worked on a computational project many years ago.
  • He’s my former co-worker, nowadays he’s the CEO of this big nonprofit that operates south.

2. Ex-colleague

Another good term you can use instead of “former colleague” is “ex-colleague”. “Ex-colleague” is perhaps the most practical and efficient term, because of how brief it is.

The word “ex-” helpfully indicates to the audience that this person no longer is your colleague. It’s a very concise choice.

Here’s some examples to showcase how you can use “ex-colleague” in a sentence:

  • We’re ex-colleagues, we used to work with each other back at the genetics lab.
  • She’s my ex-colleague, even though I look way older, we’re actually the same age.

3. Old Colleague

Another way to say “former colleague” is to use “old colleague”: “Old colleague” is the best choice when you want to emphasize the time that has passed.

If you use “old colleague”, you indicate that it has been a long time since you were colleagues.

Here’s some examples to show you how to use “old colleagues” in conversation:

  • He’s my old colleague from university, we actually did our grad thesis together.
  • She’s my old colleague, and back in the day no one had a better working dynamic than us.

4. Previous Colleague

You might be wondering what to say instead of “former colleague”. “Previous colleague” is a great alternative because it refers to someone who very recently was your colleague.

The language used in “previous colleague” indicates that before your current workplace, you were colleagues.

These examples are going to teach you how to use “previous colleague”:

  • He’s my previous colleague, he’s an incredibly talented guy and he won’t let you down.
  • She’s my previous colleague and honestly I’d be careful of her work ethic.

5. Old Associate

If you’re still asking yourself what to call someone you used to work with, don’t worry. A term you can choose to use is “old associate”, because it presents a mysterious aura about the person.

This means that describing someone as an “old associate” makes them sound really interesting.

Here are some examples to display the power that describing someone as an “old associate” has:

  • She’s an old associate that I used to be really close with, back in the day.
  • An old associate I haven’t seen in over ten years is waiting in the lobby.

6. Ex-associate

“Ex-associate” is yet another great term that you can use instead of “former colleague”. By using “ex-associate”, you’re clearly communicating the fact that you no longer associate with that person.

It’s a really smart phrase to use in plenty of situations.

These examples will teach you how to use the term in a way that is beneficial:

  • She’s an ex-associate that I haven’t talked to in at least two years, if not more.
  • He’s only an ex-associate, and I didn’t even know he was still in the country.

7. Former Associate

A very useful term that you can use instead of “former colleague” is “former associate”. “Former associate” is great because it brings to mind the idea that you used to associate with this person.

It’s a really well-constructed phrase that you can make good use of.

Here are some examples to show you how you can use “former associate” in conversation:

  • My former associate from the IT days is coming over for dinner, which will be awkward.
  • She’s just a former associate, but I haven’t heard from her in a good three years.

8. Ex-partner

A good term that you can use to replace “former colleague” is “ex-partner”. By using “ex-partner”, you’re letting everyone know that the person used to be very important to you.

After all, you don’t call anyone your partner. “Ex-partner” therefore communicates a deeper relationship without using lots of words.

Here’s a few example sentences to showcase how you, too, can use “ex-partner”:

  • I have an ex-partner working in that law firm, I guess I could ask him for help.
  • If you’re looking for my ex-partner, he hasn’t worked in here in several months.

9. Former Partner

You might’ve wondered how to say “former colleague” in a way that is even more formal. “Former partner” is a very formal phrase, because of its use of the word “partner”.

Using the term “partner” in a work context makes it come off like a very intimate work experience.

Here’s some examples that are going to show you how you can use “former partner”:

  • He’s my former partner, we actually started this company together before he left.
  • She’s my former partner, so I’m confident that if we ask for it, she’ll help.

10. Old Partner

A good term to replace “former colleague” with is “old partner”. The great thing about “old partner” is that it gives off an impression of wistfulness that can be really useful.

If you describe someone as your “old partner”, it gives off an impression of ancient mystique.

Here are a few example sentences to teach you how to use “old partner” with ease:

  • My old partner sent me an email the other day, which was weird.
  • She’s my old partner but I don’t know where she is at these days

What Does “Former Colleague” Mean?

“Former colleague” refers to someone who used to work with you, but no longer does. This might be because they quit, or you quit.

What matters is that you were colleagues before but aren’t anymore. It’s a very formal and elegant way to refer to someone.

Here are some examples to show you how to use “former colleague” in a sentence:

  • My former colleague from that company is working abroad now.
  • She’s my former colleague, even back then it was obvious that she was going to do great things.