Friendship is a fascinating subject. Based on mutual aid, reciprocity, benevolence, and support, this enriching relationship can take many forms and be described in many ways. This has given rise to dozens of synonyms for friend in French, including some of the most conventional terms and some of the most imaginative expressions.
Today, we’ll help you expand your French vocabulary by giving you the usage, meaning, and pronunciation of the different ways of saying friend in French.
Meaning, Usage, and Variations of Ami in French
As we saw in our article dedicated to the expression “mon ami”, the term “ami” has many meanings in French. It can be used to designate a person with whom you have a friendly relationship, but also to designate your romantic partner, in which case you’d call him/her a “petit(e) ami(e)”, or someone with whom you share a particularly strong friendly bond, in which case you’d call him/her a “meilleur(e) ami(e)”.
Contrary to what is portrayed in popular culture, the term “ami” is almost never used to apostrophize or call someone directly in French. It’s simply used to refer to someone close to you in a sentence. And in most cases, new generations will prefer to use many other ways of saying friend in French.
- Mon ami et Mon amie = My friend (masculine) and My friend (feminine)
- Mon petit ami / Mon (petit) copain et Ma petite amie / Ma (petite) copine = Boyfriend and Girlfriend
- Mon meilleur ami et Ma meilleure amie = My best friend (masculine) and My best friend (feminine)
25 Synonyms for Friend in French
- Copain / Copine (common)
Pronunciation: /kɔpɛ̃/ – /kɔ.pin/
English translation: Buddy
“Copain” and “copine” are two names that are used to refer to a platonic friend in French. Although the term is very common, calling a friend a copain is rather rare in everyday life, so only young children still seem to use it. Like “ami”, if you add “petit(e)” in front of one of these names, you’re talking about a love partner rather than a friendly relationship.
- Pote (colloquial)
English translation: Homie
Although more colloquial, the term “pote” is by far the most common way of referring to a friend in French. It can be used to designate both a male friend (mon pote) and a female friend (ma pote).
- Collègue (common)
English translation: Colleague
Like its English translation, the term “colleague” is most often used to designate a person with whom we work. We then speak of a “collègue de travail” (work colleague). However, in some regions of southern France, the term is also used as a synonym for friend, with no connection whatsoever to work.
- Poto / Poteau (colloquial)
English translation: Pal
“Poto”, which can also be found written “poteau”, is a slang term used to designate a person with whom one has a familiar relationship. Unlike “pote” (from which it is a diminutive), “poto” is used almost exclusively to refer to a male friend.
- Frère / Soeur (colloquial)
Pronunciation: /fʁɛʁ/ – /sœʁ/
English translation: Brother / Sister
As in English, the terms “frère” and “soeur” are used in French to name a very good friend, a person so close to you that he or she could just as well be a member of your family.
- Cousin / Cousine / Couz (colloquial)
Pronunciation: /kuzɛ̃/ – /kuzin/ – /kuz/
English translation: Cousin / Cuz
Like “frère” and “soeur”, it’s not uncommon to use “cousin” and “cousine”, or their abbreviation “couz”, to refer to a close friend in French. These terms are given to someone you trust completely, such as a chosen family member.
- Frèrot / Soeurette (colloquial)
Pronunciation: /fʁe.ʁo/ – /sœ.ʁɛt/
English translation: Little bro / Little sis
Directly derived from “brother” and “sister”, the names “frérot” and “soeurette” represent a fairly common way of referring to a friend. Although not always the case, an elder relationship is often implied. In a family setting, it’s common to call your little brother “frérot” and your little sister “soeurette”.
- Camarade (common)
English translation: Classmate
Like “collègue”, which is mostly used to refer to a friend at work, “camarade” is used to refer to a friend you make exclusively at school, a “camarade de classe”. To a lesser extent, the term can be used to refer to someone with whom you share a friendly relationship at work or at play.
- Gros / Grosse (colloquial)
Pronunciation: /ɡʁo/ – /ɡʁos/
English translation: Fat (literal) / Mate
“Gros” (big/fat) is an affectionate and, to say the least, rude way of saying mon ami in French. Despite what you might think, the term doesn’t refer to a person’s corpulence. Although its origin remains unclear, it would seem that the idiom, popularized by French hip-hop group 113 in their track “Ouais gros“, comes from the expression “gros bonnet”, which was used to describe a thug (bank robber, drug dealer) in the 20th century.
- Besta (colloquial)
English translation: Bestie
“Besta” is a Frenglish word commonly used to designate one’s best friend. The term is a contraction of the English adjective “best” and the French noun “amie”, truncated by the last syllable. Although it can still be heard here and there in schoolyards, the expression has lost popularity compared to its golden age in the 2000s.
- Acolyte (common)
English translation: Accomplice
According to the Larousse definition, the term “acolyte” is mainly used to designate a person who assists another in unsavory activities. In common usage, it’s not uncommon for the term to be used as a synonym for friend, a loyal friend who can always be counted on.
- Ma gueule (colloquial)
Pronunciation: /ma ɡœl/
English translation: My face (literal) / Homie
“Ma gueule” is a French idiomatic expression used to refer to a close friend in a very colloquial way. It is mainly used by teenagers and young adults. It’s also widely used as a cliché phrase for speaking like a suburban youth (“Wesh ma gueule, bien ou bien?”).
- Fraté / Fradé / Fra (colloquial)
Pronunciation: /fʁa.te/ – /fʁa.de/ – /fʁa/
English translation: Brother / Bro
Mainly used in the South of France and on the Isle of Beauty (Corsica), “fraté” and “fradé” are two abbreviations of the term “fratellu”, which means “brother” in Corsican. The difference in usage between the two is primarily regional: “fradé” is used in Haute-Corse, while “fraté” is used in southern Corsica. However, it’s by far “fraté” and its abbreviation “fra” that have spread most widely in mainland France, to the point where they’ve taken pride of place in the vocabulary of Marseillais and other southerners.
- Le sang (colloquial)
Pronunciation: /lə sɑ̃/
English translation: The blood (literal) / Homie
The expression “le sang” and its variants “le s” and “le sang de la veine” are particularly popular with young people when referring to close friends. It’s a metaphor that illustrates the importance and closeness of a person in our lives, like the blood that runs through our veins.
- Bras droit (common)
Pronunciation: /bʁa dʁwa/
English translation: Right-hand man
Figuratively speaking, the expression “right-hand man” is used to designate a person who assists another on a daily basis, whether by function or habit. As a result, it’s not uncommon for the expression to be used as a synonym for friend in French. In this case, it’s used to describe a very close friend who constantly supports us, through good times and bad.
- Bro (colloquial)
English translation: Bro
Year after year, more and more English words are finding their way into the French vocabulary. The anglicism “bro” has become a perfectly normal way of calling one’s best friend in French. The only difference with the English term is its pronunciation. It is often pronounced in the French style.
- Confident / Confidente (common)
Pronunciation: /kɔ̃.fi.dɑ̃/ – /kɔ̃.fi.dɑ̃te/
English translation: Confidant
As the term implies, a “confidant” is someone to whom you confide your most secret thoughts. The term is also used by younger people to designate a friend whom they trust completely.
- Complice (common)
English translation: Accomplice
Like “acolyte”, “complice” is used literally to refer to a person who takes part in a reprehensible action. However, the term’s usage has evolved over time in everyday language to become a synonym for friend in French. The term “complice de toujours” is also used.
- Meilleur / Meilleure (colloquial)
English translation: Best (literal) / Bestie
A short form of “meilleur(e) ami(e)”, “meilleur(e)” can also stand on its own in slang. The adjective then becomes a common noun to apostrophize or qualify a close friend.
- Mec / Meuf (colloquial)
Pronunciation: /mɛk/ – /mœf/
English translation: Dude / Girl
Commonly used to refer to one’s partner in a couple, the terms “mec” and “meuf” are also frequently used to apostrophize a friend in French. Therefore, “mec” is more likely to be used by men to address friends of the same sex, and “meuf” by women.
- Srab (colloquial)
English translation: Mate
“Srab” is a term derived from North African Arabic meaning “ami, camarade, copain” (friend, comrade, buddy). The expression is mainly used by young people in the suburbs to refer to their close friends.
- Tepo (colloquial)
English translation: Homie
“Tepo” is a slang expression used by teenagers and young adults as a synonym for friend in French. The term is simply “pote” in French slang (pote => te-po) and thus shares the same meaning and usage.
- Bg (colloquial)
English translation: Handsome
“Bg” stands for “beau gosse” in French. In the same way that “handsome” can be used to greet someone (“hello handsome”), “bg” is frequently used to call a friend (“comment ça va bg?”).
- Khey (colloquial)
English translation: Brother
Like “srab”, “khey” is a term that comes from Maghrebian Arabic and can be translated as “brother”. Used in slang, it’s an increasingly common way of referring to a friend in French, a “frère de cœur” if you like.
- Connaissance (common)
English translation: Acquaintance
The term “connaissance” is a little unusual in that it doesn’t refer directly to a friend, but simply to someone you know. It can, however, be used to refer to someone you’re used to being around, without necessarily sharing a close friendship.
No matter how you choose to name your friends in French, the important thing is to enjoy the good times shared together. And if you love new ways of saying your favorite French expressions, our articles on synonyms for “I don’t care in French” and “drunk in French” have been written for you!
Translated into English by Sacha