Fair Weather Friend - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for an expression to describe a friend that's never there for you when things get rough in your life? If so, you could call them a "fair-weather friend." This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The meaning of the expression "fair-weather friend" is a friend that is never around when things get difficult in life. They are quick to abandon you whenever they feel they have to do something out of their way for you.

They are willing to hang out with you when everything is going well. However, when times get tough, they are nowhere to be found.

These "fair-weather friends" are only interested in how you benefit them, how you fit into their life, and what you can offer them.

They don't offer you any support. They are unwilling to commit to anything that might place them in an inconvenient situation to help you out.

Example Usage

"I'm cleaning house in my Facebook account this weekend. I'm getting rid of all those fair-weather friends that don't add any value to my life."

"Look at Karen. Why is it she only shows up during the good times, but when you really need her, she always has an excuse to meet. What a fair-weather friend."

"You're telling me you can't come out for a beer because you don't have any money, but I see you hanging out with those guys over there? What a fair-weather friend you are, buddy."

"I don't need fair-weather friends in my life. You're there for me like I'm there for you, or I don't want to know you."

"I'm tired of that guy. He's such a fair-weather friend. Last week when I was moving, he was conveniently away for the weekend, just like last time."


According to language experts, the expression “fair-weather friend” dates back to the mid-1800s. Some believe the term originates from the maritime industry, and another phrase is known as “fair weather sailor.”

A fair-weather sailor is unable to handle rough ocean conditions. They are unwilling to take any risk of helping other ships with rescue in rough water and stormy seas.

If there is an accident at sea, the fair-weather sailor will often blame the weather instead of looking at the gaps in their skillset as the cause of the problem.

So, fair-weather friends will only venture into your life when they know there are good times, and when you need them, they are unreliable and nowhere to be found.

Phrases Similar to Fair Weather Friend

  • Sociopath.
  • Acquaintance.

Phrases Opposite to Fair Weather Friend

  • True-blue friend.
  • Real friend.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Fair weather friend.

Ways People May Say Fair Weather Friend Incorrectly

The expression has nothing to do with the weather. It’s a way of describing people that are not reliable friends. So, using it to describe a friend who lives in a pleasant climate or only shows up during good weather would be incorrect.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Fair Weather Friend

You can use the phrase “fair-weather friend” when describing someone that only comes around to hang out with you when you’re doing well. When times get tough, they are nowhere to be found. It describes someone who doesn’t believe in supporting other people in a friendship relationship.

They are only interested in you when things are going well in your life or in theirs. Some fair-weather friends may only show up at times in life when they are doing well and wish to boast about their success. Others will show up when you are doing well, and they’ll ask you for favors and loans to capitalize on your success.

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