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There are various interpretations of the meaning of 'a friend in need is a friend indeed'.

There is some debate about the meaning of this expression. Firstly, is it 'a friend in need is a friend indeed' or 'a friend in need is a friend in deed'?

Secondly, is it 'a friend when you are in need' or 'a friend who is ideed need'? If the former, then the phrase means: If the latter, it is 'someone who needs your help becomes especially friendly in order to obtain it'.

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A friend, when meeting french men are in need, is indeed a true friend. A friend, when you are in need, is someone who is prepared to act to show it 'in deed' 3. A friend, who is in need, is indeed a true friend.

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A friend, who is in need, is someone who is prepared to act to show it 'in deed'. The original meaning can be resolved to some degree by the documentary evidence - see neers.

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Nevertheless, although most people have no doubt that No. Whichever of the above options we initially opt for will cement our indsed of the phrase, probably forever, if the vehemence of the mutually contradictory mails I get on this subject are anything to go by.

A version of this proverb was ij by the 3rd century BC. Quintus Ennius wrote: This translates from the Latin as 'a sure friend is known when in difficulty'. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations lists it as existing in English from the 11th century.

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The earliest version I can find is vriend Caxton's Sonnes of Aymon The morality play Everyman also contains similar lines.

The play's date is uncertain and scholars place it as 'late 15th century', which could be before Caxton's work:.

Sir, I say as I will do in deed. Then be you a good friend at need.

Prove [that is, test] thy friend ere [before] thou have need; but, in-deed A friend is idneed known till a man have need. Before I had need, my most present foes Seemed my most friends; but thus the world goes. So, what does that evidence indicate in terms of original meaning?

Ennius' text is ambiguous and, being a later translation, can't be considered the original source of the phrase in English. Caxton's version is also unhelpful.

Helping us out when need be can be one reason to call a person our friend but that's not the only reason. Sometimes all we need is a person. This is one of the phrases in the language that is interesting because there are various interpretations of the meaning. Firstly, is it 'a friend in need is a friend. a friend in need is a friend indeed definition: This means that a friend who helps you when you really need help is a true friend.. Learn more.

The Everyman play is inded in its intent and supports interpretation 2. Heywood's verse can't be considered the original meaning as the other citations pre-date it, but is nevertheless worth considering as Heywood was an indefatigable recorder of proverbs as understood in England in the 16th century.

It is safe to say that, whatever view we have now, in either 1 or 2 was friwnd accepted meaning. Neither interpretation 3 nor 4 appears to be supported by early texts and, as neither is widely accepted today, it seems safe to discount.

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On the balance of evidence, interpretation 2 has the best claim to be the original meaning of the phrase, that is, 'a friend, when you are in need, is someone who is prepared to vriend their friendship by their deeds'. A search of web-based material shows that 'a friend in need is a friend indeed' a friend in needs a indeed but about twice the public currency than does 'a friend in need is a friend in deed'.

Those who stand up for the latter are probably correct, but they will have a hard time changing the mind of the 'indeed' contingent.

Home Search Phrase Dictionary A friend in need is a friend. Browse phrases beginning with:.

A friend in need is a friend indeed Other phrases about: The proverbs of John Heywood.