1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.
3. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.
4. One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement: friends of the clean air movement.
5. Friend A member of the Society of Friends; a Quaker.
tr.v. friend·ed, friend·ing, friendsIdiom:
1. Informal To add (someone) as a friend on a social networking website.
2. Archaic To befriend.
be friends with
To be a friend of: I am friends with my neighbor.
[Middle English, from Old English frēond; see prī- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Word History: The relationship between Latin amīcus, "friend," and amō, "I love," is clear, as is the relationship between Greek philos, "friend," and phileō, "I love." In English, though, we have to go back a millennium before we see the verb that we can easily connect to friend. Frēond, the Old English source of Modern English friend, is related to the Old English verb frēon, "to love, like, honor, set free (from slavery or confinement)." Specifically, frēond comes from the present participle of the Germanic ancestor of Old English frēon and thus originally meant "one who loves." (The Old English verb frēon, "to love, set free," by the way, survives today in Modern English as to free.) The Germanic root of frēond and frēon is *frī-, which meant "to like, love, be friendly to." Closely linked to these concepts is that of "peace," and in fact Germanic made a noun from this root, *frithu-, meaning exactly that. Ultimately descended from this noun are the personal names Frederick, "peaceful ruler," and Siegfried, "victory peace." The root also shows up in the name of the Germanic deity Frigg, the goddess of love, who lives on today in the word Friday, "day of Frigg," from an ancient translation of Latin Veneris diēs, "day of Venus."
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.