“Do You Know What Kind of Friend You Are ?” by Mike Sterling – August 2020

Mike Sterling – An excellent Wine Maker in Sonoma Valley, California

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines friend as “a person who you know well and who you like a lot, but who is usually not a member of your family

But look at the way we use it. 

“I added her as a friend on Facebook but I hardly know her”

Trump: “I am friends with Kim Jong Un”

“America is great friends with Britain”

“Dogs are man’s best friend”

“I am not a friend of Turkish food”

“You’d better watch it, friend”

“He was hit by friendly fire”

“The police is every law-abiding person’s friend”

It’s even possible that friends or friendship can have different meanings at different ages. In childhood – it’s about sharing and playing. In adolescence, we begin to focus on shared values, loyalty and common interests. And in adulthood, it’s more about companionship, affection, and emotional support

What about all these other categories of friendship?

Blood brothers

Boston Marriage


Casual relationship

Cross-sex friendship

Female bonding



Friend of a friend

Imaginary friend

Kalyana-mittata (spiritual friendship)

Male bonding

Platonic love

Social connection


The word must be significant. Looks at these great synonyms listed on slangpedia.

Dawg, chum, bestie, amigo, mate, homeboy, homie, BFF, BFFL, BFBFF, fool, chica, Chiquita, sis, ace, buddy, pal, butty, bud, hebro, bruv, blad, broseph, brother from another mother, brohan, brotato chip, my boy, my man, nizzle, b, g, cuz, cuddy, Kemosabe, goombah, weeble, star, bedren, cheesemuffin, bitch, beau, boo, booski, cutty, bull, china plate, chap, chuck, droog, duke, dun, ese, FOAF, roll dog, habib, thick, pana, compita, pisan, boet, pard, mucker, whody, tight, comrade, compadre, woe, damie, nooka, doobhead 

Perhaps – the etymology (from wiktionary) will help…..

From Middle Englishfrendfreend, from Old Englishfrēond (“friend, relative, lover”, literally “loving[-one]”), from Proto-Germanic *frijōndz(“lover, friend”), from Proto-Indo-European *preyH- (“to like, love”), equivalent to free +‎ -nd. Cognate with Saterland FrisianFrüünd(“friend”), West Frisian freon, froen, freondinne (“friend”), Dutch vriend (“friend”), Low GermanFrundFründ (“friend, relative”), German Freund (“friend”), Danish frænde(“kinsman”), Swedish frände (“kinsman, relative”), Icelandic frændi (“kinsman”), Gothic 𐍆𐍂𐌹𐌾𐍉𐌽𐌳𐍃 (frijōnds, “friend”). 

That’s no help. The word and its meaning have not changed since it became a word.

To really understand friendship maybe we should go back into history – way back. Friendship never had a better friend than Aristotle. He believed that friendship is clearly necessary and good, but that people disagree on its precise nature. 

Friendship, he wrote, consists of a mutual feeling of goodwill between two people.

Aristotle said there are three kinds of friendship. 

The first is friendship based on utility, where both people get some benefit from each other. 

The second is friendship based on pleasure, where both people are drawn to the other’s wit, good looks, or other pleasant qualities. 

The third is friendship based on goodness, where both people admire the other’s goodness and help one another strive for goodness.

The first two kinds of friendship are only accidental, because, he says, in these cases friends are motivated by their own utility and pleasure, not by anything essential to the nature of the friend. These kinds of friendship don’t endure because one’s needs and pleasures are likely to change over time. 

Goodness is an enduring quality, so friendships based on goodness tend to be long lasting. This friendship also includes the other two, as good friends are useful to one another and please one another. Such friendship is rare and takes time to develop, but it is the best, right? Bad people can be friends too. But only for reasons of pleasure or utility. Only good people can be friends for the benefit of each other.

You can read more about what Aristotle said about friendship here: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.8.viii.html

This all reminded me of the Randy Newman song made famous in “Toy Story.”If you’d like to sing along here’s a link to the music https://youtu.be/DNZUKm0ApEM

You’ve got a friend in me

You’ve got a friend in me

When the road looks rough ahead

And you’re miles and miles

From your nice warm bed

You just remember what your old pal said

Boy, you’ve got a friend in me

Yeah, you’ve got a friend in me

You’ve got a friend in me

You’ve got a friend in me

If you’ve got troubles, I’ve got ’em too

There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you

We stick together and can see it through

Cause you’ve got a friend in me

Yeah, you’ve got a friend in me

Some other folks might be

A little bit smarter than I am

Bigger and stronger too,…maybe

But none of them will ever love you

The way I do, it’s me and you, boy

And as the years go by

Our friendship will never die

You’re gonna see it’s our destiny

You’ve got a friend in me

You’ve got a friend in me

Yeah, you’ve got a friend in me

I think Aristotle would have liked “Toy Story.”