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I'm looking for a word to describe that a particular situation where two people (a man and a woman) are probably the best of friends but have no romantic inclinations towards each other. They may invade each others thoughts periodically but aren't really in a relationship per se. What would be a good word to describe this?

I'm aware of "platonic" but am wondering if there is another word?

  • 7
    Every word for friendship has been sexualized, aside from "friendship" which is now a trope for doomed pinings. Thus, the "friendzone". – Oldcat Dec 16 '14 at 23:28
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    I would probably call them "besties". – genisage Dec 16 '14 at 23:32
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    I think "bromance" is occasionally used in this sense. – Hot Licks Dec 17 '14 at 1:13
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    @HotLicks Bromance is a strong friendship between men, not a man and a woman (brother/romance). – Mynamite Dec 17 '14 at 19:12
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    @HotLicks I have never heard it used that way, but the world is a big place :) – Mynamite Dec 17 '14 at 20:20

13 Answers 13

39

I would say they are dear friends or close friends.

  • Close friends or best friends works well because it implies that they are close but have a relationship just like the other friends in the person's life. – Phil Dec 17 '14 at 20:14
  • These are phrases not words – Anon343224user Jan 6 '15 at 9:45
  • The asker is looking for words to describe some kind of friendship. These words are “close” or “dear”, as I provided. – Joffysloffy Jan 6 '15 at 9:49
21

Platonic is the usual choice to describe this.

E.g. "They look intimate but they're merely platonic friends."

Platonic at Merriam-Webster:

pla·ton·ic adjective \plə-ˈtä-nik, plā-\
2 a : relating to or based on platonic love; also : experiencing or professing platonic love
b : of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex

Platonic love at Merriam-Webster:

platonic love noun, often capitalized P
2 : a close relationship between two persons in which sexual desire is nonexistent or has been suppressed or sublimated

  • I should state "other than platonic". Platonic has a rather professional connotation to it. Like in the office place. – PhD Dec 16 '14 at 22:09
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    @PhD I don't think platonic has that connotation (not in any of my dictionaries, or my experience with the word). It seems the perfect word. – neuronet Dec 16 '14 at 23:21
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    I don't think that platonic implies "intimate". You can have a very casual platonic relationship. – GreenAsJade Dec 17 '14 at 4:39
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    I agree that "they look intimate but they are platonic" describes the word that the OP is looking for :) However, platonic itself is not that word. "Their friendship is platonic" does not tell you if it is intimate or not. – GreenAsJade Dec 17 '14 at 8:09
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    @GreenAsJade while some definitions of platonic do not require intimacy (see my proposed edit), it does typically imply closeness (intimacy) just not physical intimacy. I cannot recall ever seeing platonic used in a situation describing a casual relationship. Despite OP's wish for another word, it is the only offering here that actually specifically excludes the sexual while embracing closeness. – Mr.Mindor Dec 17 '14 at 18:55
15

First expression that comes to mind is that they are bosom buddies, which the ODO article defines as:

A very close or intimate friend

The relationship between bosom buddies is, despite the fact that ‘bosom’ refers to breasts, quite platonic.

If there is something a bit secretive and reclusive about their friendship, like they’re so close nobody else can really ‘get in’, you might even say that they are thick as thieves:

(Of two or more people) very close or friendly

While bosom buddies is colloquial and informal, thick as thieves is crossing over into very colloquial or even slangy territory, so it might not fit your needs. There is also something a bit disapproving about thick as thieves, which is not the case for bosom buddies.

  • I would be interested to know the etymology of bosom friends. The OED doesn't give it, but it does have an example of its use from as early as 1590. I suspect it has something to do with the practice of wet nursing. Etymoline doesn't have an entry. – WS2 Dec 16 '14 at 22:58
  • I always thought bosom buddies (or the more coloquial butt buddies) was more of an insult: a third person looking a two friends with jealousy or malicious intent. – JAL Dec 16 '14 at 23:11
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    @JAL I can easily imagine that for thick as thieves, but I’ve never heard bosom buddies being used in such a way. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 16 '14 at 23:14
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    @JAL I've always understood Bosom Buddies (as well defined above) to mean something very different from 'butt buddies', which caries an implication of a homosexual relationship between two men. It's often used when one doesn't exist, but the purpose is clearly to create the implication in a teasing or insulting manner. – LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 17 '14 at 1:36
  • Hmm, I learned something today. Thanks for the clarification! – JAL Dec 17 '14 at 15:30
6

Other than platonic, I would say "kindred spirits" is an apt term to describe two intimate, but not romantic friends.

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    kindred spirits does not exclude the possibility of romance. – Mr.Mindor Dec 17 '14 at 19:37
  • Nor does it imply friendship. I've always interpreted it as a recognition of similarity in origins, interests, beliefs, or values. You could recognize a "kindred spirit" who doesn't even know you exist. – Kevin Krumwiede Dec 18 '14 at 20:05
3

Some of the other answers are words that would make it clear that they're not romantic friends, but don't carry the meaning that they're very good friends.

There isn't really a formal way to express this in a single word in AmE. The two most fitting things that come to mind are both slang and relative neologisms:

BFF, an Internet acronym for "best friends forever", which gained widespread recognition in the US thanks to a funny commercial.

And besties, a slightly older slang term that has largely been eclipsed by BFF.

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    I'm not sure it was the commercial, but BFF came to my mind and I'm an American of middle age. – Andrew Lazarus Dec 17 '14 at 8:13
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    The term "BFF" was popular way before that commercial... – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Dec 17 '14 at 8:21
3

I submit that

confidant

may capture the sentiment most succinctly.

con·fi·dant
ˈkänfəˌdant,ˈkänfəˌdänt
noun
noun: confidant; plural noun: confidants; noun: confidante; plural noun: confidantes a person with whom one shares a secret or private matter, trusting them not to repeat it to others.
synonyms: close friend, bosom friend, best friend

Source is Google's mysterious dictionary, however this definition is similar.

2

Buddies.

You and he were buddies weren't you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjOEcoMy2fI says it all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chAdBLdnaRU explains how much it means.

Google defines it as "a close friend." Buddy singular.

Need I say more... need I say more...

  • "Need I say more?" has always been such an ironic phrase. – Jeromy French Dec 18 '14 at 1:05
  • I think you meant iconic! – Anon343224user Dec 19 '14 at 10:44
0

"just good friends"

e.g.

Sexual politics in the 90s: Just good friends - What's love got to do with it?, Matthew Sweet, The Independent, 18 May 1997

0

I have used just "best friend", although the newer BFF would suffice, as a previous poster suggested. I think either of those terms precludes much of a romantic relationship.

  • Some people claim to be married to their best friend, so this term does not universally preclude romance. (But "best friend" might work if it's explicitly clear that they're not married.) – Scott Dec 18 '14 at 6:48
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In slang, homie is a popular word for best friend.

It is originated from "homeboy" which suggests a male friend but nowadays it is used for girls also. There is also homegirl as the female version.

Even, bro is used for both boys and girls nowadays.

  • Maybe it would help to write how these words would be applied to the situation OP describes. – Tyler James Young Dec 29 '14 at 20:04
-1

Well, if they have sex, that doesn't necessarily mean there is romance so it would be "friends with benefits" or "sex buddies" in that case. But the first answer of "dear friends" is probably the most accurate when describing two people who don't have sex but think about one another often. Maybe even "bestie" or "best friend" but saying platonic is redundant.

-2

What immediately comes to my mind is:

unadulterated

or — to cool it down even further — maybe something as simple as

pure

would suffice? Though it sounds a bit prudish now that I wrote it…

-2

Why not just say that they are two people with a deep friendship?

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    Don't ask us "why not?"; explain to us why it should be so. – Matt E. Эллен Dec 19 '14 at 9:39

protected by tchrist Dec 18 '14 at 2:31

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