A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed– Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a saying to describe a true friend? You could use “a friend in need is a friend indeed” to express their selfless behavior to you in your time of need. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

The proverbial expression “a friend in need is a friend indeed” means that a person who helps you in your time of need is a real friend. A person that is only there for you when it suits their life is a “fair-weather friend.”

The original use of the expression was to describe someone only being friendly to you when they need your help. However, the saying changed its meaning over the years. Now it means that a person that is there for you when you need them most is a friend you can rely on in life.

Example Usage

Tom: “Thanks for coming to pick me up, Kim; I knew I could rely on you.”

Kim: “No problem, Tom, a friend in need is a friend indeed.”

“I thanked Tom for saving me the other day when I was stranded on the freeway. I told him that a friend in need is a friend indeed.”

“A friend in need is a friend indeed, but a friend with money is better.”

“A friend in need is a friend indeed. Just hide your wallet if they ask for money.”

“A friend in need is a friend indeed. I don’t know why that guy is only around when he wants money from me.”

“A friend in need is a friend indeed, and you can rely on me to be there for your when you need me.”

Origin

The origin of the proverbial expression “a friend in need is a friend in need” has disputed roots. Some believe it comes from Rome in third-century B.C, where Quintus Ennius wrote the following.

‘Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur’. Translating from Latin as “a sure friend is known when in difficulty.”

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations states that the phrase only appeared in English in the 11th century. The earliest rendition of the phrase comes from Caxton’s “Sonnes of Aymon,” published in 1489, where it reads as follows.

“It is sayd, that at the nede the frende is knowen.”

John Heywood published “Prouerbes in the Englishe tongue,” in 1562, where the saying appears as the following.

“Prove [that is, test] thy friend ere [before] thou have need; but, in-deed

A friend is never known till a man have need.

Before I had need, my most present foes

Seemed my most friends; but thus the world goes.”

Phrases Similar to A Friend in need is a Friend indeed

  • True blue friend.

Phrases Opposite to A Friend in need is a Friend indeed

  • Fairweather friend.
  • Vanilla friends.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Ways People May Say A Friend in need is a Friend indeed Incorrectly

Some people may confuse the meaning of the saying. They think that it means that friends only appear in your life when they need something. This is incorrect, and the phrase means that someone offers you help when you need it.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase A Friend in Need is a Friend indeed

You can use “a friend in need is a friend indeed” when you’re telling someone that they can rely on you to be there for them in their hour of need. Someone may also say the expression to you after you help them out when they need you. The phrase suits use in social conversation.

You can use it when your friend comes to pick you up after your car breaks down on you. Or you could use it when you arrive at the scene to tell your friend you are there to help them out. It’s a way of telling someone that you value them as a true friend.

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