Nodding acquaintance/ chance companion

Silver

Senior Member
Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
Context and Question:

How to call those people who you've only met for once in your life? For example, you travel to a place and she/he also travels there. But you two don't know each other, maybe you both give each other a smile but without further conversation?

Can I say:

Nodding acquaintance
Chance companion


A-I heard that you'd met a beautiful young woman in your trip to Shenzhen, did you ask for her number?

B-Well, she's only a chance companion/a nodding acquaintace; we haven't talked to each other since then.


What do I think:

passers-by probably is a good choice, but does the above two terms also make sense to you?
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Either of these express the idea of casual acquaintance, Silver, yet both might not work to describe this woman. Of the two, "chance companion" is probably more accurate. However, it's not exactly a common thing to say in my part of the world.

    Do you plan to meet her again? Did the two of you really hit it off when you talked? Or was it nothing more than a brief chat in an airport? All these details would help me decide what kind of acquaintance she is.

    Generally, a "nodding acquaintance" would be somebody that you just nod to in a friendly way when you meet that person by chance in your daily routine. It's probably not what you want to use to describe somebody that you had an intense conversation with.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Do you plan to meet her again? (No,not really) Did the two of you really hit it off when you talked? (I said hello to her and she replied a hello) Or was it nothing more than a brief chat in an airport? (You bet!) All these details would help me decide what kind of acquaintance she is.
    So, I guess "nodding acquaintance" is the best choice here?

    Or can you tell me your definition of "chance companion" since you've told me "nodding acquaintance"?

    Thanks
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Plain "acquaintance" would be my choice, or "She's just someone I met."
    A nodding acquaintance is someone you see often but don't really speak to, e.g. you work at the same place and each of you nods your head when you pass in the to acknowledge the other's presence, but you really can't be bothered to even say "Hi." You only met this girl one time and you obviously spoke to her at some length.
    "Chance companion" sounds really old-fashioned to me. I don't even know the definition. I would guess it would be someone that you were accidentally forced to share a train car with.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I'm in general agreement with Myridon (post #5), with the small exception that my nodding acquaintances do get a "Hi" or even a "Good morning" if we happen to pass on the street.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    'A chance encounter' might do, but it does suggest something that went further than a smile and one word greeting. There's also the phrase "ships that pass in the night", but that's not quite right here either. I don't think there is a special phrase.

    Hermione
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'm intrigued by the earlier answers on "nodding acquaintance" - I don't use "nodding acquaintance" for a person, only for a degree of familiarity. So I would say "I have a nodding acquaintance with John Smith" or {more probably} "I have a nodding acquaintance with the works of John Smith"; I wouldn't say "John Smith is a nodding acquaintance".

    I don't think I use "chance companion" at all:(.
     

    sandpiperlily

    Senior Member
    I'm intrigued by the earlier answers on "nodding acquaintance" - I don't use "nodding acquaintance" for a person, only for a degree of familiarity. So I would say "I have a nodding acquaintance with John Smith" or {more probably} "I have a nodding acquaintance with the works of John Smith"; I wouldn't say "John Smith is a nodding acquaintance".

    I don't think I use "chance companion" at all:(.
    Interesting! I would say "John Smith is a nodding acquaintance," and not "I have a nodding acquaintance with John Smith." Perhaps this is a US / UK difference?

    Like you, I would never use "chance companion" -- I believe this thread is the first time I've seen that phrase.
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I would say both that I have a 'nodding acquaintance" with someone or that someone "is a nodding acquaintance."

    As to the question in the original post, if you just smiled at the person but didn't talk to her, then she is not an "acquaintance" (nodding or otherwise), nor is she a 'companion." She is just someone that you crossed paths with briefly. That would also be true if you only exchanged a few words.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello, Silver. You asked this question: So, I guess "nodding acquaintance" is the best choice here?

    I don't think so unless you see her fairly often, don't know her name, and nod "hello" as the two of you pass. Like Loob, I don't say that somebody is a nodding acquaintance. I say that I have a nodding acquaintance with that person. I don't say this very often. :)
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Thank you all very much.

    I just found out the term in dictionary.reference. But I am very happy since I got many useful information here.
     
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