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7 Ways to Say “Friend” in German

7 Ways to Say “Friend” in German

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1. Freund

The easiest and most common way to say friend in German is “Freund”. One noticeable difference between friend and “Freund” is, however, that “Freund” does actually also carry the meaning of boyfriend in German. In the same manner, Freundin can both refer to a good female friend or someone’s girlfriend.



Peter: Meine Freundin ist gestern aus Prag zurückgekommen. 


Peter: My girlfriend came back from Prague yesterday.



Paul: Ein Freund von mir hat das Album “Encore” von Eminem produziert.

Translation: A friend of mine produced the album Encore by Eminem.


2. Kumpel

Kumpel is another good way to refer to a friend. In comparison with Freund, Kumpel suggests a somehow less strong relationship. It might be compared with the English “buddy”.


3. Bruder

Bruder obviously means brother. However, Germans like to use “Bruder” to refer to good friends as well.


4. Atze

The funny-sounding word “Atze” is another word that get the meaning of friend or buddy across. It is widely used in Berlin, where it also stands for big brother, whereas “Keule” would be the word to use for little brother.

Atze is extensively used in the German hip hop scene. In 2008, there was a song called “Das geht ab” by Die Atzen (Frauenarzt & Manny Marc)


5. Kollege

In Germany, “Kollege” or “Arbeitskollege” usually refers to a friend at work. In Switzerland, however, Kollege (or Kolleg) is often used to refer to good friends rather than work colleagues.


6. Busenfreund

“Busenfreund” (English: bosom friend) is a term to refer to a very close friend. (use Busenfreundin if that friend is a female)

The term emerged in the second half of the 18th century in the course of Sentimentalism, a literary trend from the 1740s, in which friendly relationships and trust were the focus.

The term “Busenfreund” can be found in several works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller.


7. Alter

Young people love to use “Alter” to address their friends and buddies. It is often used as a greeting as in “Hey, Alter, was geht?”(Hey, my friend, how is it going?).

Alter is very informal and mainly used by teenagers. Male teenagers make extensive use of “Alter,” while girls generally don’t use it.

To use “Alter” to refer to your friends, homies and buddies is also a thing in Switzerland and Austria.