difference between friend/buddy/mate/dude

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Hector9, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. Hector9

    Hector9 Senior Member

    I'm trying to see what are the differences between friend/buddy/mate/dude


    Could you tell me if any of them are synonyms or what is the difference and their meanings?

    I'm going crazy, I can't see what's difference between them (I always heard those terms on movies :confused:)
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2011
  2. Bigote Blanco Senior Member

    Hector, don't go loco! I'd suggest you stick to "friend" and all will be fine.
    The difference between the others can be quite subtle and can have quite different meanings depending on context.

    "Hey Buddy, if you touch me again I'm going to smash your face." :eek:
  3. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    As far as definition goes, they are one in the same. But as BB said, context and voice intonation can change all that.
  4. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Yeah, "friend" is safe. I also noticed: it seems you can say "his buddy", "his mate" meaning "his friend", but NOT "his dude". (Right?) "Dude" more often indicates "a stranger," such as "that dude" (Right?)
  5. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    Not really. I hear guys all the time address each other as 'dude', allbeit habitually, and ad nauseum.
  6. ribran

    ribran Senior Member

    Austin, Texas
    English - American
    Well, I would never approach one of my friends and say, "Hey, friend!" He would wonder what I had hit my head on. I generally say, "Hey, man!" I never use mate. I always become slightly suspicious when I hear buddy, because in my experience, people use it when they are trying to ingratiate themselves with strangers or casual acquaintances.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2011
  7. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    Hey, buddy can you spare ten?
  8. Minnesotagirl21 New Member

    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    English - United States
    They are basically interchangeable... mostly depends on context. Here's some generalizations though:

    Friend: You usually use this to refer to a friend to another person. Ex. "I would like you to meet my friend, George."
    Buddy: Used like friend ("this is my buddy, George"). Can be friendly (usually used with pets or kids). Ex. "Hey Buddy! How was your soccer game?" .. or angry Ex. "Watch it buddy! You spill your beer on me again and I'm gonna kick your ass!"
    Mate: We don't say this in America.
    Dude: Teenagers/young adults use this more often. Ex. "Duuuuuude, we're, like, almost out of weed." Otherwise I hear it a lot when people are mad at a friend. Ex. "Dude! You made out with my girlfriend! That's not cool..." Or when you are excited Ex. "Dude! You won Lady Gaga tickets?? Aaaand you're taking me with you?? I love you, man!"

    Hope this is somewhat helpful... its hard to explain well.
    Buena Suerte!
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2011
  9. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    There's a difference between references to people and forms of address, and sometimes a difference between the sexes.

    Mate isn't used in US English (in other than the sexual sense), except in combination words (teammate, classmate).

    Friend is a safe, basic word used by either sex in reference to someone of either sex. Occasionally, often with "my", it's used as a form of address: "How have you been, my friend?"

    Buddy is used mainly by males, in reference to male friends (or, jocularly, female friends): "I got an e-mail from my buddy Joe." "No, Mary's not my girlfriend; we're just good buddies." As a form of address, it's usually used only with strangers and is sometimes hostile (see post #2), but not necessarily. It's an informal word, but not slang.

    Dude is typically used only by males, in reference to another male, often a stranger: "Then this tall dude walked into the bar..." As a form of address, it's used by males to male friends: "Hey, dude, how're ya doin'?" It's slang (but not a "bad" word).
  10. Copperknickers Senior Member

    Scotland - Scots and English
    Parla explains it well. 'Mate' is primarily British, eg 'alright mate' for 'hey buddy' in Americanese. I've also heard Americans using 'friend' in the same way, eg 'hello friend, can I help you?'. Buddy is occasionally used in British English, dude is never used except when imitating Americans.
  11. Archstudent Senior Member

    English - North London
    Even if these words are used interchangeably, if you want to use them with the right idiom, it is best to know how those terms originated:

    - Friend is the basic term, the universal term. As someone mentioned above, do note that friend is rarely used as a form of address, and when used as such it is best to use it in the form "my friend", eg. Hello my dear friend!
    - Mate means a peer, or a fellow, denoting common membership whether formally or informally of a group, hence classmates (mates, where the common group is their school class), teammates (where the common group is a sports team). In British English (and most ex British colonies, particularly Australia), mate has since long ago become an informal, friendly way to address a man or boy.
    - Buddy means a close friend, someone with whom you are specifically more intimate than perhaps some of your other friends. In my experience this particularly is intended as relationships between children. For this reason I believe it can be sarcastically addressed to someone who is a stranger in order to convey contempt (see posts by others, above).
    - Dude does not mean friend. It means simply, a male, man or boy. You can refer to someone as a dude, without even knowing them, or without ever having met them for example, whereas you would never (unless ironically) refer to someone you had never met as a friend, buddy or mate. Having said that, it is true that dude is a common form for male friends to address each other. I believe that this because it is a term that can, or usually conveys vague affection or respect, because dude can often connote stylishness or coolness of the person in question.

    I hope this anwsers your question.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2011
  12. Daffodil100

    Daffodil100 Senior Member

    - Mate means a peer, or a fellow, denoting common membership whether formally or informally of a group, hence classmates (mates, where the common group is their school class), teammates (where the common group is a sports team). In British English (and most ex British colonies, particularly Australia), mate has since long ago become an informal, friendly way to address a man or boy.

    Is it okay for a woman to call her Australian male friend mate?:D
  13. montmorencywrf Member

    Abingdon, Oxfordshire, GB
    English - England (south-central)
    I agree with Copper.. and Daffod, with some comments:

    "Mate" in British English was originally a working class term of affectionate address among equals.

    It later became more widespread, and would sometimes be used (rather patronisingly) by middle class people to working class people, in an attempt (always futile) to appear friendly, etc (imagine David Cameron saying it to a coal miner, for example.

    I've noticed its use spreading more widely in the 3rd person, among middle class parents to refer to their children's friends, and it sounds to me a bit artificial in that context, but it's very common.

    You will also see it used in a neutral sense in phrases like "classmates", "schoolmates", where it doesn't really mean "friends", but just people they go to school with. cf. "housemates" - people who share a house, but may not actually be friends.

    "mate" is a word that has survived where words like "chum" or "pal" haven't really (except humorously).


    There are one or two rhyming slang versions of mate, but the only one that seems to have any currency would be "China" - "China Plate", and that only among older people.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2011
  14. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    Note that the word "mate" is not used in this context at all in the United States, unless for humorous reasons one is trying to pretend that one is a Briton or an Australian.
  15. Santanawinds Senior Member

    English - USA
    to continue this discussion, I've got some new questions about expressions used throughout the English speaking regions of the US and Canada.

    Dude - this word is used often in California, among the surfer and beach-going population. At least it was common in the nineties while I was still in the US. Is it really outdated now? In the surfer/beach jargon, dude is used pretty much for everything, depending on the context of the sentence. So it could mean man, friend, or even just woah!
    Dude! Look at that wave...
    Hey dude, how're ya?
    That dude just entered the shop...

    Is 'dude' used at all in Canada? What about the rest of the US?

    Mate - in the US this word is considered British, and isn't used often.

    guero, guera - used by the latino community for whites.

    homeboy, hommie, homegirl - latino and African-American communities in the US, usually for close friends.

    Bud, buddie - I have heard being used in the US, but I'm not sure it's that common.

    I brought this old topic up because I'm actually looking for a word that means man or friend, that is more common throughout the US and Canada, if that's possible at all. Dude may be too region-specific. Any suggestions?
  16. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Maybe the word you're looking for is (ahem) man, SW:)
  17. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    Yes, I absolutely agree with you. The other words sound silly if improperly used. You really have to know the context very well. The same with yeah, if improperly used. OT.
  18. walloper Senior Member

    Salford (Manchester)
    Authentic Spanish from Spain
    There are other sinonimous for dude or buddy like bloke, fella, lad or chap if you want to have more options. :D
  19. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    But as noted above, their usage varies enormously by location. In the US "bloke" is never used, and would sound absurd, and the equally unused "lad" and "chap" would sound not so much absurd as precious and swishy. "Fella" is not a word, but is the way "fellow" usually sounds when spoken in casual conversation -- but note that a more careful enunciation of "fellow" sounds mightily affected as a term of address.
  20. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    For more on feller, fella and fellow see here.
  21. Santanawinds Senior Member

    English - USA
    ewie, you may just be right! But if there's a generally accepted slang or informal word for 'man' available, that's not too region-specific like 'dude', then I'd prefer using that word. Say, GUY - that's a word I'd forgotten about earlier!

    Is 'guy' common in Canada and throughout the US?
  22. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    What context do you want to use "guy" (or whatever) in, Santanawinds?

    What would your relationship be to the person you're speaking to? And in what sort of situation would you be speaking?
  23. SeventyNine

    SeventyNine Senior Member

    In which case can I use pal and folk ?
  24. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    A few comments:
    • I'm British; if anyone calls me dude I will get highly offended. If a person on equal terms calls me mate, that's fine. Only a man will call another mate.
    • Any one of these can be a put-down. Certain types of policeman will call a suspect, or even a prisoner, pal. "Listen, pal, don't give me any of your lip or I'll be adding to your charge sheet!"
    • Pal is apparently one of the few English words derived from Romany.
    • There are two rhyming-slang derivatives of mate: China (plate) which means "friend"; Dutch (plate) which means "wife".
  25. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    As "folk" is a word that refers to a group of people, and not a single individual, there is no case at all in which you could ever use it as an individual term of address.

    Have you really ever heard anyone say "Hello, folk!" to one person???????
  26. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Beware of pal - it's not often used as a greeting (see # 24 above). But as a noun it's fine, meaning friend: "He's an old pal of mine... My son's out with his pals..."
    Folk is simply a synonym of people, used on less formal occasions. In Britain it can sometimes be a form of address: "Hi there, (you) folk(s)!"
  27. Hector9

    Hector9 Senior Member

    It's good to see you continued with the topic!

    It's veryyyyy complicated to know all the contexts, at least for a non-native.

    Finally, I have decided to use "Friend" as a default word so I don't offend anyone, independently of the region where I use it.

    Again, thank you very much :)
  28. SeventyNine

    SeventyNine Senior Member

    You're right I've heard it always in plural, a good way to remember that rule is the classic cartoon end's That's all folks


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