Note: When it comes to the proverb “a friend in need is a friend indeed,” there’s some ambiguity as to what it means. The most common definition I’ve seen for it is listed below:
If someone is going through a difficult time and is in need of help, a true friend will be there to support them. Because they provide help in a time of need, they show themselves to be a real friend.
The Origin Of ‘A Friend In Need Is a Friend Indeed’
It’s nice to have friends, especially when they are reliable. Unfortunately, being dependable is not everyone’s strength. Indeed, and some people might not even be there at times when they’re needed most! Let’s consider an example:
Anna is currently struggling financially and is in the process of finding a job. She’s having trouble paying the bills and even affording food! During this difficult time in her life, she asks her friends, Brenda and Cassie, for help. They both have money to spare, but only Brenda gives some to her troubled friend. Cassie, on the other hand, makes up an excuse for why she can’t. Thus, out of the two friends, which one supported Anna in her time of need?
Obviously, it was Brenda who proved to be “a friend indeed.” Yes, to hammer the point home one more time, this expression basically means that “true friends” will help when it’s really needed, whereas “false friends” will not.
Alright, now let’s talk about the origin of the proverb “a friend in need is a friend indeed.” The idea for this phrase has been around for thousands of years. For example, a Roman poet named Quintus Ennius who lived in the 2nd century B.C.E. wrote (when translated from Latin):
“A sure friend is known in unsure times.”
In addition, the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations says the phrase has existed since the 11th century. So it looks like it is quite old.
- While I was sick in bed, Mark went to the store and bought me some much needed supplies. He’s a good example of the saying “a friend in need is a friend indeed.”
- When my mother passed away, it hit me hard. I grieved for a long time, but on the days that were especially difficult, Julie was there to comfort me. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
- I lost some important data after my laptop malfunctioned. My friend knew how crucial this data was to me, so she came over and spent the entire day helping me recover it. As the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed.