7 Ways to Say "Friend" in English

We all have friends – best friends, life-long friends, new friends, and those we refer fondly to as “just acquaintances.” No matter where you are in your life, you’re always meeting people and building connections. In honor of International Friendship Day, we thought it would be a nice treat to explore some of the terms we use to refer to our friends in English.

Whether you’re improving your English skills for your future travels, university, or your career, the possibility of making friends wherever you go is inevitable. You may meet someone on a train making the same journey from London to Edinburgh. Or maybe you spark up a quick cordial relationship with the new girl who sits next to you at work. What about your partner for that presentation on 16th century Romantic poetry in your Literature class? You never know who you might meet! So what will you call these friends once you meet them? Let’s find out!


7 ways to say 'friend' in English

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So, where do these terms come from?

  • Pal – This word is most commonly used in Scotland. A pal is someone you spend a lot of time with. It can also be used as a verb, as in "they were just palling around."
  • Buddy – This one is definitely more common in the US and Canada. In a way, it's almost the North American equivalent to the term "mate." In some instances, this word might be shortened to "bud," which essentially means the same thing.
  • Mate – Very common in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, "mate" is a word that means so much more than just "friend." Often times, it is used when addressing anyone (whether that is your good friend or the guy who is delivering your pizza). It's a friendly and endearing term which can be used in almost any situation.
  • Chum – This word is a pretty old fashioned British term; it was first used in the 19th century! You probably won't hear it as often as these other terms, but what you will hear is the adjective "chummy," which means friendly. You might refer to two people as being "very chummy" with one another.
  • Bro – Deriving from the word "brother," "bro" is a term that is most often used by people who are characterized as preppy or jocks. This word was a big favorite in the fraternity houses of the US, but has become more commonly used on a global scale in recent years.
  • Dude – A "dude" can really be anyone, not just a friend. But used in the right context, it can be a term of endearment. This is one of those words that changes meaning depending on the context. It can also be used as an exclamation, as in, "Dude! That was crazy!" Once considered more popular in North America, this term is now universal.
  • Partner in crime – Despite the ominous sounding phrase, this really just refers to someone you do things with. These things can be mischievous, but they are not necessarily illegal, except maybe in the case of Thelma and Louise...


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