AskDefine | Define consult

Dictionary Definition



1 get or ask advice from; "Consult your local broker"; "They had to consult before arriving at a decision" [syn: confer with]
2 seek information from; "You should consult the dictionary"; "refer to your notes" [syn: refer, look up]
3 when planning or deciding something
4 have a conference in order to talk something over; "We conferred about a plan of action" [syn: confer, confabulate, confab]
5 advise professionally; "The professor consults for industry"

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


consultare, from consulere to consult.

Pronunciation 1

  • a RP /ˈkɒnsʌlt/|/kənˈsʌlt/, /"kQnsVlt/ or /k@n"sVlt/
  • a US /ˈkɑnsʌlt/, /"kAnsVlt/


  1. : The act of consulting or deliberating; consultation; also, the result of consulation; determination; decision.
    The council broke; And all grave consults dissolved in smoke. -Dryden.
  2. : A council; a meeting for consultation.
    A consult of coquettes. -Swift.
  3. : Agreement; concert.
  4. : A visit, e.g. to a doctor; a consultation.
Usage notes
The noun consult is avoided in British English, favoring consultation instead. In AmE, they are merely synonyms.

Pronunciation 2

  • /kənˈsʌlt/, /k@n"sVlt/


  1. To seek the opinion or advice of another; to take consel; to deliberate together; to confer.
    Let us consult upon to-morrow's business. -Shak.
    All the laws of England have been made by the kings England, consulting with the nobility and commons. -Hobbes.
  2. To advise or offer expertise.
  3. To work as a consultant or contractor rather than as a full-time employee of a firm.
  4. To ask advice of; to seek the opinion of; to apply to for information or instruction; to refer to; as, to consult a physician; to consult a dictionary.
    Men fergot, or feared, to consult ... ; they were content to consult liberaries. -Whewell.
  5. To have reference to, in judging or acting; to have regard to; to consider; as, to consult one's wishes.
    We are ... to consult the necessities of life, rather than matters of ornament and delight. -L'Estrange.
  6. (transitive), : To deliberate upon; to take for.
    Manythings were there consulted for the future, yet nothing was positively resolved. -Clarendon.
  7. (transitive), : To bring about by counsel or contrivance; to devise; to contrive.
    Thou hast consulted shame to thy use by cutting off many people. -Hab. ii. 10.
  • Dutch: raadplegen
  • Hebrew: להתייעץ (le'hitia'etz) (1)
  • Spanish: consultar

Extensive Definition

A consultant (from the Latin consultare means "to discuss" from which we also derive words such as consul and counsel) is a professional who provides advice in a particular area of expertise such as accountancy, the environment, technology, law, human resources, marketing, medicine, finance, economics, public affairs, communication, engineering, sound system design, graphic design, or waste management.
A consultant is usually an expert or a professional in a specific field and has a wide knowledge of the subject matter. A consultant usually works for a consultancy firm or is self-employed, and engages with multiple and changing clients. Thus, clients have access to deeper levels of expertise than would be feasible for them to retain in-house, and to purchase only as much service from the outside consultant as desired. It is generally accepted good corporate governance to hire consultants as a check to the Principal-Agent problem.
'Consultant' is also the term used to denote the most senior medical position in the United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland (e.g., a consultant surgeon).

Ways in which consultants work

Often a consultant provides expertise to clients who require a particular type of knowledge or service for a specific period of time, thus providing an economy to the client. In other situations, companies implementing a major project may need additional experienced staff to assist with increased work during that period.
More recently the term is also used euphemistically for temporary staff. That resource is only temporarily employed by a company to augment the company's core set of employees without providing any unique expertise. This usually indicates that the consultant could be expended when demand for that particular skill diminishes, though this expendability is sometimes recompensed with higher pay. In this usage, the consultant is usually employed through a limited company which they themselves own, or through an umbrella company. Consulting has come under some criticism because of staff augmentation and the high amount of jargon consultants use, also known as consultantese.
Sometimes a consultant is not an independent agent but is a partner or an employee of a consultancy, that is a company that provides consultants to clients on a larger scale or in multiple, though usually related, skill areas. This has advantages both to the client and to the consultant by:
  • Providing a pool of talent that can be quickly mobilized as required
  • Reassuring the client about the quality of the consultants supplied
  • Giving the client access to the experience and methodologies of the whole consultancy rather than an individual
  • Introducing the consultant to new experiences and techniques which may, eventually, permeate through the consultancy as a whole
A consultant giving career advice and training to an individual or a team is often termed a coach, and a consultant assisting an organization to develop a new strategy or solve a particular problem is sometimes referred to as a facilitator.
Strategy consultants are common in upper management in many industries. There are also independent consultants who act as interim executives with decision-making power under corporate policies or statutes. They may sit on specially constituted boards or committees.

External links

consult in German: Unternehmensberater
consult in Spanish: Consultor
consult in French: Consultant
consult in Indonesian: Konsultan
consult in Dutch: Adviseur
consult in Japanese: コンサルティング
consult in Norwegian: Konsulent
consult in Portuguese: Consultor
consult in Romanian: Consultant
consult in Russian: Консалтинг
consult in Serbian: Консултант
consult in Finnish: Konsultti
consult in Swedish: Konsult
consult in Chinese: 顾问

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

GO, advise, advise with, bargain, blow, call in, cast away, cogitate, collogue, compare notes, confab, confabulate, confer, confer with, consider, consult with, counsel, deliberate, devour, discuss, discuss with, dissipate, drivel, eat, examine, exchange observations, exchange views, exhaust, expend, feed on, finish, fritter, have conversations, hold conference, huddle, ingest, inquire of, interrogate, look up, meal, negotiate, palaver, parley, partake of, powwow, put heads together, question, reason with, refer to, run through, sit down together, sit down with, spend, squander, take, take counsel, take counsel with, take up with, talk over, throw away, treat, trifle away, use up, wash up
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