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I am looking for a word that I could use instead of "friend of a friend". On certain occasions, it happens that you may want to talk about a friend of a friend with someone else.

In such cases how would you refer to this friend?

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I don't think there will be a single word, but it is an interesting question. I'll to edit your text though, because you're mixing up "address" (*how you speak to someone), and "refer" (how you speak of that person, to someone else). – FumbleFingers Sep 9 '11 at 15:04
I don't know of a single word for that but there is an abbreviation: FOAF. – Mehper C. Palavuzlar Sep 9 '11 at 15:05
A friend of my friend is a friend of mine. – Philoto Sep 9 '11 at 15:42
A mathematican might write friend² I suppose. Perhaps say "transitive-friend". – GEdgar Sep 9 '11 at 16:34
@Noah Mutual friend means that I am a friend of A, and B is a friend of A. A is the mutual friend, but she is my friend, not a friend of a friend. – bib Oct 20 '12 at 1:09
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you have met the friend of a friend in person before, you might call them a "mutual acquaintance".

A mutual acquaintance is a friend or acquaintance whom you both have in common — i.e. the friend of your friend.

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Firstly, "Mutual Acquaintance" places considerable restriction on the scope of FOAF. Secondly, OP explicitly asked for a single word. – FumbleFingers Sep 9 '11 at 15:11
@Andy F: No worries. Fried made me remember unfortunate chickens, so I had to correct it! :) – Mehper C. Palavuzlar Sep 9 '11 at 15:14
@Fumble, I don't think that mutual acquaintance is as restrictive as you think. I certainly don't feel like there are negative connotations surrounding the phrase. The only restriction, I feel, is that you have to have met someone before considering them an acquaintance. If the OP hasn't met the person in question, perhaps just referring to them as "your/his/her acquaintance" would suffice. In answer to your second point, I couldn't think of a single word, so I provided this as an alternative. I don't think that single word requests preclude multiple word answers. – Andy F Sep 9 '11 at 15:46
Well I don't want to seem nit-picky. It's quite true a mutual acquaintance could be someone you've only met once (maybe just to say hello, at the margin). I didn't downvote your answer, and if there's no better answer within a day or two I'll probably upvote it as the best that can be done. On reflection, OP's question is a bit woolly - if the FOAF is known personally by one and only one of the two people conversing, just say "your/my friend" as appropriate. FOAF is only relevant when you're talking to someone completely unconnected. – FumbleFingers Sep 9 '11 at 16:20
@Fumble, that's fair - if a more appropriate answer comes along, I'll be upvoting it too. And I agree about the scope of the question - more context might have been more useful. – Andy F Sep 9 '11 at 18:09

Acquaintance is the word you're looking for (as Andy already noted.) By definition, "acquaintance" refers to a person you know of but are not close to. If you wanted to be more specific you could add an adjective like mutual or casual.

If you feel "acquaintance" is too formal for your needs, then restructure your sentence to use a possessive phrase (i.e. "friend's friend" or "Joe's friend") to avoid the prepositional phrase but keep it casual.

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To most people, an acquaintance is a person you know, not simply a person you know of. You'd probably not accept me saying Barack Obama is an acquaintance of mine, though I obviously know of him. – FumbleFingers Sep 9 '11 at 18:25
An acquaintance is anyone you know well enough to borrow money from. A friend is anyone you know well enough to lend money to. – David Schwartz May 29 '12 at 9:14

The difficulty with this construct is that friend of a friend can vary widely in the amount of contact that you may have with that person. You may have

  • been introduced once at a party
  • met on several occasions, but the connection is still through your friend
  • spoken on the phone as a favor to the common friend
  • interceded on some issue at the request of the friend
  • never met or spoken at all, but are aware of the other based on information provided by the mutual friend
  • be on the road to becoming a friend-in-fact

You, the friend, and the friend-of-a-friend are all links in a social network. Link is more often used to refer to the relationship between persons rather than the persons themselves. However, I think a good argument could be made to characterize the friend-of-a-friend as a link in your relationship chain.

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Well, as the question has been posed, it seems hard. For this matter, since in your conversation you will have been referring to your friend's friend, then it's better to simply consider that person as your friend.

This suggestion of considering this person as your friend comes by virtue of the mere fact that, take an instance where you are referring to a friend of your friend's friend. How would you refer to that person in your conversation?

Just simplify all these matters by considering all of them as your friends too. Or you could instead mention their specific names, nicknames, or titles if you're aware of them.

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protected by RegDwigнt May 29 '12 at 10:09

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