• To compile information or resources for the purpose of study and comparison
  • To aggregate and arrange in a logical or practical order
  • (Religion) To appoint a member of the clergy to a benefice


At some point in our studies, there comes a point when we are tasked with writing a research paper. Maybe you are comparing a piece of contemporary Irish literature to the country's political history, or maybe you are doing a medical analysis on the common causes of cancer. Whatever the topic of research, a trip to the library to dredge up the facts is unavoidable. After poring over dozens of books, taking copious notes, and browsing several websites, you've finally collected all the facts you need. But before you can hope to make sense of the considerable amount of information you've found, you'll need to put it all together in a logical manner, i.e. collate it all.

To collate is to assemble or gather information in order to more efficiently and effectively conduct further analysis and compare individual sources. Without collating what you've found, you may have your collection of facts - bookmarked webpages, dog-eared books, and pages of notes - but you haven't yet arranged them in a way that lets you process the knowledge they contain or weigh individual facts against one another. Once you properly collate all this data, then you can choose the most salient points and start constructing your final product, whether a paper, presentation, or debate notes, to apply what you've learned.

Another usage for the word collate is to order them in some practical arrangement. The organizational scheme is usually one that is intuitive to humans, like chronological or alphabetical orders. One can, for instance, collate the pages of a book before it is bound, as well as collate the organization of a bibliography alphabetically or in accordance with citation numbering. When printing out a document, one can commonly choose whether the printer will collate, printing complete copies of multi-page documents sequentially, or not collate, printing all the desired copies of the first page before printing the second page, and so on.

Another, less common, use of the word collate is exhibited in religious contexts. To collate in this sense means to appoint a member of the clergy to a benefice. This in turn means that the cleric of a church receives some sort of revenue or stipend, so they can dedicate their efforts to serving the church instead of securing their livelihood.

Example: Suzie was able to collate her argument very clearly, presenting the information in a sequential fashion that was easy for her audience to understand.

Example: After each text was presented, he proceeded to collate the two to determine any glaring differences.

Example: After many years, the church elected to collate the elderly cleric to a more prestigious benefice, granting him many more responsibilities.


The word collate first surfaced in English in the mid-16th century in its religious context: "to bestow a benefice upon." This derived from the Latin word collātus, meaning "brought together." This word is the past participle of the Latin verb conferre, meaning "to bring together."

Derivative Words

Collates: This is the present tense conjugation of collate, used when a third-party serves as the organizer.

Example: With the click of a button, the printer collates the freshly inked paper so they can be stapled together in page order.

Collated: The past tense of the word indicates when one has ordered information at an earlier point.

Example: She collated all the inconsistencies in her opponent's position in order to brandish them in their debate.

Collating: The active present form illustrates when one is presently organizing information.

Example: He started collating all his old notes in the hopes of finding some new insight.

Collatable: Collatable is the adjective form of collate, referring to something that can be ordered logically.

Example: Organizing the messy stacks of manuscripts in the library's basement was a daunting task, but they were collatable and someone needed to do it.

Collator: Collator is a noun referring to someone who performs the task of arranging something.

Example: Mary was an expert collator, always able to organize masses of documents and facts into coherent presentations.

Uncollated: Uncollated is an adjective referring to something that is not presently complied in an orderly manner.

Example: The uncollated piles of random receipts, documents, and papers would have to be processed before he could file his taxes.

Similar Words

Collect is a verb that coincides with the first part of collate's definition: to gather together.

Compile is a verb that relates to the second part of collate's definition, that of assembling or organizing the gathered material.

In Literature

From J. Henri Fabre's More Hunting Wasps

'Now that all the facts have been set forth, it is time to collate them.'

Here, the use of collate is placed at the beginning of a new chapter. After presenting previous chapters on the facts of the matter under consideration, Fabre uses collate to propose that he is about to organize these facts into a fashion where he can further analyze the material and present it for readers.


  • To collate is to organize what you collect.


Collect, Compile, Compare

Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of collate. Did you use collate in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.