Starting with classical Greek, we find the word ‘phil’ meaning ‘friend’. The verb ‘phileo’ could be translated as ‘to love’ or ‘to like’. This leads us to the boy’s name Philip / Filip.
And what creature in ancient Greece was a good friend to men? A horse, in Greek it is ‘hippo’.
This is why in the 15-16 variants in our list all mean “loved by his horse” or “loving his horse”.
Such names would probably have been most common amongst soldiers where the horse was very important in warfare.
Philip is the 95th most common male first name in the USA, accounting for some 241,000 names.
Other variants include Teofilo meaning ‘friend of God’ and Filemon or the feminine version Filomena which means ‘a beloved friend’.
Hebrew has the name Ruth
which means friendship. The Book of Ruth in The Old Testament is in fact all about friendship. Ruth
is the 19th most common female first name in the USA (there are currently 688,000 girls named Ruth
living there). It is the 44th most common female first name in Norway (11,000 women are so named). In Sweden there are 14,700 women named Ruth
is a Hebrew male name which literally means: ‘be brought together’ and which can be translated as ‘friendship’. There has been a surge of fresh interest in this name in a number of countries.
In Latin ‘amicitia’ means ‘friendship’ and from this is derived the Spanish for friend: ‘amigo’. The English name Amy
also has the same Latin origin. In French the name Aimee
similarly derives from the Latin and is translated ‘friend’ or ‘beloved’. In the USA Amy
is the 32nd most common female first name; 552,000 girls are so named.
There also exists an old Roman surname ‘Aemilius’ which can be translated as ‘companion’ or ‘brother-in-arms’. Names such as Emil
might possibly have their origins here.
But these names could also derive from the old German ‘ermen’: which has a range of meanings: ‘hard working’; ‘conscientious’; ‘whole’; ‘truthful’ and possibly ‘truthful friend’.
In the USA and England Emily
were the two most popular girls’ names in recent years. And Emma
has been one of the most popular names in Norway, Sweden and Denmark from 2003 to the present day. Emil
was among the most popular names in Norway and Sweden the last years.
Turning to the Gothic/German and Celtic traditions we find the words which contain elements of the meaning of ‘friend’ include: ‘win’,’wyn’ and ‘vin’. These are present in the following names:Alden
, which derives from ‘aldwyn’ meaning ‘old friend’; Alvin
, meaning ‘friend of the elves’ or ‘noble friend’; Arvin
, meaning ‘friend of an eagle’; Baldwin
(with the French variant Baudoin
) meaning ’brave friend’; Darwin
meaning ‘dear friend’; Edwin
meaning ‘rich friend’; Erwin
‘friend of the wild boar’ or, and this is more likely, ‘friend of the army’ as in Herman
meaning ‘friend of God’; Marvin
meaning ‘famous friend’; Melvin
meaning ‘a wise friend’ or a a ‘wise adviser’ (this was used amongst Christians as a name of honour) and, finally, Selwyn
meaning ‘friend of the manor’.
In German traditions we also find Lidvin
meaning ‘friend of the people’; Winifried
, friend of peace and in old Norse: Oddvin
meaning ‘spear-carrying friend’
The girl’s name Wendy
was used in J.M. Barrie’s play ‘Peter Pan’ in 1904 and was from the nickname ‘fwendy’ (as the author was called as a young boy) meaning ‘friend’. A variant is Winnie
, the name of Nelson Mandela’s first wife. Rowena
means ‘famous friend’ and that was the name given to the wife of Ivanhoe in the novels of Sir Walter Scott
From Norse myths we also find that the wife of the God Tor, who was named Sif
means “familiar’ or ‘friendly. In Iceland, Norway and Sweden they now use Siv
. In these myths the wife of Loke was Sigyn
which means ‘friend of victory’.
In Irish we have the name Myrna
which derives from ‘Muirne’ which means ‘beloved friend’ .
Turning to names in Asia we find the shortest possible name for friendship: U
which derives from the Chinese ‘friendly’. The Secretary –General of the United Nations from 1961-71 was U-Thant; he was Burmese.
Almost 50% of the population of Vietnam has Nguyen
as their surname. It is also a first name for both boys and girls and can be translated as: ‘genuine/good friend’. From Vietnam we also have Thuy
(female) meaning ‘friendly’ and Linh
(both male and female) which means ‘a friendly spirit’.
There is a much longer list of Arabic names, many from Turkey, with the meaning ‘friend’ built into them. The list to the right can be explored in more detail on our site.
And, finally, a sweet greeting from Somalia: the girl's name Samsam (it can also be written as Zamzam) which possibly means “she is listening, she is a good friend”. Perhaps this is the name you have been searching for?