Let's Bring Back 'Collogue' and Make Conferring Sound Mysterious

, Staff Writer
Updated May 3, 2022
Two best friends sitting in a cafe whispering and gossiping
    Two best friends sitting in a cafe whispering and gossiping
    skynesher / E+ /
    Used under Getty Images license

Collogue — is that a new brand of cologne? Nope. Some French recipe? Not quite. An even more confusing spelling of colleague? You’re getting warmer. Collogue is defined as “to confer or converse privately” or “to intrigue or conspire.” Perhaps this doesn't quite describe your water cooler conversations, but who doesn’t want to feel like they're sneaking around under the cover of darkness embarking on a secret mission every time they talk to their friends?

Speaking of Collogue

Chances are, autocorrect may not have liked it when you searched the word collogue. You mean have gotten results for colleague, or perhaps colloquial or even college. However, collogue has nothing to do with these. Well, almost nothing. They all share the same root — the Latin colloqui, meaning “to talk with” and the French colloque “secret meeting.”

Confused yet? Think about it this way: You can collogue with your colleague at college. These words all refer to a meeting and conference between people. Recalling these related words that are easily confused with collogue can help you to differentiate between them and remember the meaning and context of collogue.

Origins of Collogue

The origin of collogue is as mysterious as its etymology. Samuel Johnson defined collogue as "to wheedle, to flatter; to please with kind words" in his A Dictionary of the English Language in 1755. However, the “confer or conspire” definition was notably absent. Perhaps some people collogued about it because the word was used in this context in 1811 by Walter Scott in a letter, which read, "We shall meet and collogue upon it."

You Know You’re Colloguing When

Now that you have a good understanding of what collogue means (and that it has nothing to do with arrangements of pictures in a heart shape), learn how you can apply the word and action in your daily life.

  • You’ve gathered with two colleagues in the break room to collogue about the latest misadventures with a co-worker.

  • You’re catching up with an old friend and colloguing about the latest gossip.

  • Your friend calls you to collogue about plans a surprise party for your mutual friend.

  • You arrange a meeting with your roommates to collogue about leaving a mess in the bathroom.

  • Your teacher pulls you aside to collogue about the topic for your final paper.

  • You’re gathered for a confidential meeting to collogue about last quarter’s sales.

  • You and your family are planning a trip you’ve collogued about for years.


We’re Bringing Collogue Back

Not only does it sound cool and mysterious and vaguely like a type of folk dance, but collogue is also a perfectly practical word that has many real-world applications. After all, “conspire” has criminal connotations, and “chat” just doesn’t have that dramatic flare. It’s the perfect thing to call your whispered conversations or confidential meetings. You can collogue with friends, family, co-workers, peers, or even yourself — maybe do that last one in private.

Words That Deserve a Comeback

English has countless words that have sadly faded from popular use, and other languages like German have untranslatable words that convey things with one (admittedly long) word that English needs a whole sentence to communicate. Consider adding some of these words to your everyday vocabulary.