Is he the same fellow who did that?
Is he the same person who did that?

In some parts of my country, using the word fellow gives a hint of some negativity. At least, it's not a polite way to say the sentence mentioned above. There, others recommend using the word person. Is it something that if that person did good thing, we use the second sentence?

Can't we use fellow to describe a person here? Is the word fellow (other than PHD) always shows suspiciousness as in "Shh...look at him, he's the fellow who followed my daughter that day."

WordWeb defines fellow as a 'boy' or 'man'.

Please note: I'm clear about using the word fellow, which means a person who is the member of one's class or profession.

  • 3
    Fellow is not intrinsically negative but it is a little bit more informal or folksy. I met a real interesting fellow on the airplane said he worked for John Deere. We talked for the entire trip.
    – Jim
    Nov 14, 2013 at 5:17
  • I'm curious if the usage of fellow varies between American English and British English.
    – user230
    Nov 14, 2013 at 19:24

1 Answer 1


In standard English usage, fellow is neutral and informal, as Jim notes in his comment. It would be appropriate for relaxed gatherings. Think of a speaker at a technology conference, for instance:

"And I tell you, this fellow right here, he is an inspiration to all of us."

It would also be appropriate at parties. Think of the song:

"For he's a jolly good fellow."

On the other hand, it can be used negatively as appropriate. In these contexts it would indicate derision or intensity.

"Nasty fellow, always coming up with some new scheme for getting his own money with other peoples' effort."

"I won't deny, he works like a horse, but nice? No, he's definitely not a nice fellow."

The use of the word should be a deliberate choice if the context is not completely casual. In a small group of friends having drinks together, it's pretty much always appropriate. A speaker might use it to help loosen up his audience, as in the first sentence I noted. Using it in writing is inadvisable unless the context specfically calls for informality and a folksy feel. A find/replace from person to fellow is not a safe or good idea.

  • 1
    It’s also worth making explicit that “fellow” can only refer to a man, whereas “person” is genderless. Mar 11, 2018 at 23:58

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