Colloquially, two phds from the same advisor are referred to as academic brothers/sisters, i.e. if i am a phd student with advisor X and someone else is a phd student with advisor X then we are academic siblings. In this framework, how would one describe the relationship of a postdoc to a phd, both having the same advisor?

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    Why not just "colleagues"?
    – Buffy
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 15:04
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    Of course one is always able to say colleagues, in fact it was even applicable to the case with two phd students sharing an advisor. However, it's not what I am asking; I want a term of endearment which fits into this familial framework. We could just say peers even, but it's not useful with respect to answering the question. Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 15:06
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    Such might exist in some languages/cultures, but I've never heard anything in English.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 15:07
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    It's a very common colloquialism used to refer to two people who share an advisor for their phd. Such people are called academic siblings. Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 15:16
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    @AloneProgrammer: You don't use it as a term of address; you wouldn't say things like "Hey, academic sibling, what's up" to their face. But people do say things like "I'm working on a paper with Y; she's my academic aunt". Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 18:41

1 Answer 1


I don't think there is any specific word for this.

In my experience, the "family" analogy (sibling, grandparent, uncle, etc) is only ever used for relationships defined in terms of the PhD advisor/student relationship. I've never heard anything similar used for advisor/postdoc or any other type of academic relationship.

I think you just have to spell it out. "He and I both worked with X; I was X's student and he was her postdoc."

  • Agreed, but note that some people use terms like 'uncle' and 'cousin' term a bit loosely, seemingly more based on "interaction distance" than on a direct analogy with family trees.
    – Anyon
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 19:21
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    Given how badly can end up the relationships between advisers and students, I suggest to tread very carefully with such analogies. Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 20:24
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    @MassimoOrtolano ...because family relationships never end that badly. (Cough.)
    – JeffE
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 15:47

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