I just read the expression "a more senior colleague" in another stackexchange forum. I am not a native speaker but this sounds wrong to me: to my ear "senior" means "older", so "more senior" sounds like "more older" to me.

So which is correct, "a senior colleague" or "a more senior colleague"? Or are both expressions correct?


It is correct. A senior colleague is one that has been with the company longer than you. A more senior colleague is one that has been with the company longer than another that has more seniority than you.

So a junior colleague might ask of you "When was the company founded?" and you, not knowing when, might reply "I don't know. Let's ask a more senior colleague."

"More senior" is to "senior" what "even older" is to "older".

| improve this answer | |
  • I think I understand. So what if there are only two colleagues in the discussion, e.g. some colleague and I. Should I say: "I spoke about this with a senior colleague" or "I spoke about this with a more senior colleague"? Or can I say both sentences, with a difference in meaning? – Giorgio Mar 24 '17 at 16:45
  • I'd more likely go with "I spoke about this with a more senior colleague" as it better expresses that it's a relative ranking of seniority, not an absolute one. – Rob K Mar 24 '17 at 17:18
  • So it seems to me than "more senior" is to "senior" what "older" is to "old". – Giorgio Mar 24 '17 at 17:38
  • Correct. Some words, you stick "-er" or "-est" on the end. Others, you say "more X" or "most X". – Rob K Mar 24 '17 at 18:25
  • @Giorgio - Part of the problem is that you think “senior’ means “older”. That’s close, but not exact. Instead, think of it this way: “senior” means “experienced” – then you will see why “more senior” works okay. – J.R. Mar 25 '17 at 0:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.