a person who has dealings or connection with another person, especially in work or business having equal or nearly equal rights or a say in the day-to-day running of the business, not necessarily a partner, colleague or friend;
a person who works independently (self-employed) but has some business dealings with another person or company and works together with the other;
one of the members of an association, law firm, company, etc. who joins others in their business activities, but not necessarily a partner, employee or friend,
Sorry, I can’t make the final decision on my own; I have to consult my associate.
Salim usually goes out to dinners with some of his associates from the law firm.
Miss Baker has worked as associate director on a couple of low-budget films.