June 01, 2004

Flipping coinage

Given my (limited) success popularizing "igry" (try the search window to the left to pull up more entries regarding "igry"), perhaps it's time to introduce people to a new word I've been finding useful lately: "friend-in-law". I coined this to describe those people who you sort of know because they're friends of friends (or spouses of friends), but while they haven't graduated to friend status on their own, neither are they strangers or mere acquaintances. I think this improves on "friend of a friend" partly because "friend-in-law" rolls more easily off the tongue, but also because "friend of a friend" -- for me, anyway -- carries more of a connotation of someone one barely knows or hasn't even met. Perhaps that's because of the phrase's association with urban legends. ("Yeah, a friend of a friend knew someone who tried to dry off her cat by rubbing it with a microwave oven instead of a towel...") So "friend-in-law" clearly implies a closer relationship than "friend of a friend", although context and tone of voice can imply whether or not the particular friendship-by-proxy is a positive or negative thing.

Please remember me when writing OED citations, lexicographers of the future.

Posted by Francis at 05:51 AM

Google turns up 674 references. Granted most of those are for "a friend in law school" or something, but at least a few people are using it the way you do. You may need to get it into print in order to secure rights to the coinage.

Posted by: dlr at June 1, 2004 09:39 AM

L and I use this all the time. When we joke about the possibility of breaking up, we talk about who gets custody of the friends.

Posted by: Doug at June 1, 2004 02:02 PM

Damned simultaneous coinages! (Well, near-simultaneous.) Other people beat me to "spamments" as well. Sigh.

Posted by: Francis at June 2, 2004 12:37 AM

For what its worth, igry is now getting major play among the attorneys at my old firm (it comes up a lot in law firm life). If one of them manages to slip it into a brief, I'll make sure to let you know.

Posted by: Ugarte at June 2, 2004 12:54 PM