Friendship can be described in a variety of figurative ways to enrich your writing. Whether it’s for a thank you card or a novel about friendship, I’ve compiled some of the best friendship metaphors, similes, analogies and idioms that I’ve found.
Many friendship analogies relate to friends as people who are people who care for you:
- You can ‘Lean’ on a Friend (figurative language)
- Friends are Angels (metaphor)
- Friends are ‘like’ Siblings (simile)
- Friends are my Rock (metaphor)
Others highlight that old friends are the best:
- Friends are like wine: they get better with age. (simile)
- Friends are the best Antiques (metaphor)
See below for all of the friendship metaphors, similes and idioms I’ve found.
Friendship Metaphors, Similes, Analogies and Idioms
1. Friends are the Siblings God Never Gave Us
Siblings are people who you’re bonded to by blood. You grew up with them so you have a special close connection that lasts for a lifetime. To say friends are siblings is not to say they’re literally siblings, but it’s to say they’re like siblings. A good friend (especially an old friend) might feel like a sibling because you’re so comfortable with them and you feel a strong bong. If they’re old friends, your long history may also bond you together in a similar way to siblings.
2. A Good Friend is like a four-leaf Clover
Most clovers have three leaves, but every now and then you can find a four leaf clover. As a child, I remember scouring through clover patches to find a four leaf clover considering them to be lucky.
So if we were to relate a good friend to a four leaf clover, we would consider them to be “hard to find and lucky to have.” Hard to find because making a genuine friendship and connection with someone (especially in adulthood) is unfortunately all too rare. And lucky to have because – as legend has it – finding a four leaf clover is a sign of good luck.
3. Friends are Angels
An angel is a religious being who is considered to be pure, innocent and entirely good. They’re often even messengers from god. Usually when we use angels as metaphors (e.g. you can also say children are angels) we’re referring to the fact that they’re:
- Gifts from god
- There to help you through tough times
- Having your best interests at heart.
So, to put it in a sentence, you could say: “A good friend is an angel: they’re a gift from god here to guide you through the tough times.”
4. A Good Friend is the only Therapist you Need
This turn-of-phrase isn’t saying a friend is literally a therapist. But a good friend is a good listener and can help you talk through your problems. If you have a good friend, they will talk to you about your problems and help you put them into perspective.
And much like a therapist, they will let you get all your thoughts off your chest so you can organize and sort through your thoughts.
5. Friendship is a Flower. You need to Water it Regularly.
I love this metaphor because it reminds you of your responsibilities as a true friend. You need to remember to check-in on your friends and make sure they’re okay. But even if you know they’re doing well, if you don’t spend quality time with a friend, you might lose touch.
This constant work you need to do to maintain a strong ongoing friendship is a bit like being a gardener. Gardeners need to check-in on their flowers regularly to make sure they’re getting the love and water and nutrients that they really need.
Some people might disagree with this, though. Sometimes you can be apart from a friend for years but when you get back together it’s like no time has passed at all. (See: friendship is like riding a bike).
6. Friendship Speaks in Silences
Of course, friendship doesn’t “speak”. When we give human traits to non-human concepts, we call it personification, which is a special type of metaphor.
What I like about this personification metaphor is it refers to the idea that when you’re really good friends with someone, you don’t really need to be talking all the time. You can just sit together and watch a movie or even do your own things in each other’s presence. This is when you know you’ve got a really close friendship.
7. Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.
This is a quote from the author H. Jackson Brown Jr.
To call a friend an ‘antique’ might be a little offensive! But in this situation it’s not designed as an offence, but rather to emphasize the value part in the friendship. The fact that there’s that phrase “dear” in “dear old friend” also demonstrates that this saying is affectionate.
I think this idiom also resonates because ‘old’ friends are usually friends from childhood, which is a time we look back at with nostalgia and wistfulness. The fact our old friends have that shared experience of something great in your past generates an extra special bond with them.
8. Friendship is a Shelter in the Storm
This metaphor highlights the importance of friends during hard times. If you’re going through some rough things in your life, you can retreat to your friends who will care for you and ensure you get through them. It’s a bit like a nice sturdy shelter that can protect you while a storm is passing by. This would be a metaphor because you’re saying friendship is something that it isn’t really, but the analogy works because of the similarities between the two concepts.
9. Friends are my Rock
A rock is sturdy and cannot break. Water will wash over it, you can throw it to the ground, and you can hit it with a hammer. But a rock will stay strong throughout. A good friendship is similar. Your friends will not break or fall apart on you. They will always be there through good and bad, and their friendship will not erode.
You could extend this to other stone and rock metaphors, like “my friend has a heart of stone” to imply they’re sturdy and always there when you need them.
10. Friends don’t Stab you in the Back
No, there are no knives involved! We use the metaphor “stabbed in the back” when saying you were betrayed by someone.
So when you say that friends don’t stab you in the back, you’re saying that friends will always be loyal. They won’t betray you or hurt your feelings.
A time you often hear this analogy is (ironically) when a friend does stab you in the back. You might say “you’re not my real friend because friends don’t stab you in the back!”
11. You are the Cheese to my Macaroni
This is something of a double metaphor. There is no word “friend” in here anywhere, but you’re supplanting both you and your friend for two common items that seem to fit together and get along really well. Cheese and macaroni go together well. So, too, might coffee and pancakes or burgers and beer.
You can imagine, for example, that Ronald Weasley is the Cheese to Harry Potter as the macaroni. Or Peregrin Took is the coffee to Pippin or Frodo, the pancakes (in Lord of the Rings).
You can really let your imagination go wild for this double metaphor and find any two things that you think go together really well.
12. Friends are like Wine. They Get Better with Age.
Most things have a use-by date. After a while, they start getting moldy or stale. But wine is one of those few things that will improve in its taste as it gets older. In relationships, friendship is the equivalent. The older you get, the closer you might get to a true friend. You will spend more time together and accrue more memories that will make your bond stronger and stronger as time goes by.
13. A True Friendship is like Riding a Bike.
Supposedly, once you learn to ride a bike, you will never forget. It’s learned for good and you’ll be able to do it forever.
The simile “it’s like riding a bike” is used in many different areas of life. You can say “skiing is like riding a bike” or “teaching is like riding a bike”.
But in this situation, we’re talking about friendship to say that once you’re friends, you’re friends for life. To me, when I meet up with old friends it feels like we picked up right where we left off. We are still comfortable together and happy to hang out no matter how long we’ve been apart. So, it’s like riding a bike: it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been apart, you can start it up again without any troubles.
14. A Friend is a Person to Lean On
This saying that you can “lean on” someone is so commonly used that you might not think of its literal origins. It’s rare that you’ll actually lean on that friend. But, this saying that you can lean on your friend means they’re someone you can get on the phone with or meet up with and have them support you when you’re in times of trouble.
15. You can Count on Me
You could say that you can always “count on” friends. We usually use this phrase to explain that the friend is reliable and you’ll be able to trust them for something. It’s not likely that you’ll literally count them down on some sort of checklist of people who are going to be by your side in good times and bad. But we say it as a shorthand way of expressing the fact that you’re not going to forget about your friend and you’ll make sure you will be a reliable person in their life.
This list of friendship metaphors, similes, idioms and analogies is by no means exhaustive. In fact, there isn’t really a limit to how many metaphors or similes you can come up with about any topic. The limit is only your imagination. If any of the figurative phrases listed above are not perfect for you, that’s fine. Use them as inspiration for a turn-of-phrase that’s unique to you and your own situation or even one with multiple meanings. Hopefully, these figurative language examples have been useful whether it’s a thank you card, appreciation card or even a novel.
I’m a Scorpio, I love the outdoors, and I’ve written articles in some major online publications like Medium and The Weekly. My favorite metaphor? Anything that’s got to do with baseball. I’m fascinated by the fact our language has baseball weaved all through it. Read more about me here.