Friend in Spanish: Over 20 ways to refer to your pals!
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Who doesn’t love to hang out with friends and share great moments together? Friendship gives life a layer of fun, kindness, and love that just makes it all better, so why not surprise your buddies with a fun variety of words for friend in Spanish?
Just like English, we have a lot of options for how to say friend in Spanish, each with its own nuance and charm. So in today’s post, we’ll delve into the realm of friendships and learn over 20 different ways to refer to our friends in Spanish!
We’ll start with the most common words, including how to refer to our best friend in Spanish. Then we’ll quickly get into more informal and regional vocab, learning plenty of words for friend in Spanish slang.
At the end we have a bonus section on other common relationships that aren’t quite friendships, but that are still important to know.
And since most of this post covers slang words for friend in Spanish, we’ll leave you with a bunch of links to our popular posts on regional slang across the Spanish-speaking world.
Now let’s go, friends!
Spanish words for Friend
Now it’s time for the real fun! Spanish is a language spoken in over 20 countries, so the variety of slang words should come as no surprise. Let’s take a look at the most popular ways to say friend in Spanish slang.
Amigo / Amiga
This is the most common way to say friend in Spanish. It transcends borders and is recognized in all Spanish-speaking countries. Amigo is masculine, while amiga is feminine, the plural versions are amigos for all-male or mixed groups, and amigas for female-only friends.
Mejor amigo / Mejor amiga
When you call someone your mejor amigo or mejor amiga, you are saying they are your best friend in Spanish. So you’re not just acknowledging them as a friend: you’re bestowing upon them a special status! And if your mejor amiga becomes your girlfriend or your wife, you’ll surely want to know how to best express how much you like or love her with te quiero vs te amo.
Hermano / Hermana
Hermano means brother in Spanish, while hermana means sister. When you call someone hermano or hermana in Spanish, you’re saying that they are more than a friend: they are part of your chosen family. You’re implying that your bond is tight, and expressing a deep and enduring friendship.
In some Latin American regions, such as Venezuela and Ecuador, pana or panita are affectionate terms used to refer to a close friend in Spanish. Panita is the diminutive, which adds even more affection to the term.
Socio / Socia
Socio is usually translated as business partner. However, in Spanish slang, it’s also a way to call someone a close friend. Calling a friend your socio or socia is especially suitable if you’ve shared a lot together.
Brother, Bróder, Bro
Taken straight from English, we have brother, its Spanish version bróder, and its short version bro. Just like hermano, you can use brother and its variations to refer to someone you have a strong friendship with.
Asere is a colloquial expression in Cuba used to refer to a friend or companion. It’s a friendly and affectionate way to refer to friends in Spanish.
The term carnal has multiple dictionary meanings, one of which pertains to the flesh. In Mexico, it is informally employed as a synonym for a close friend, someone as intimate and amicable as a sibling.
In Mexico, the word raza is commonly used as a colloquial term to refer to one’s group or community of friends or people who share a common background, culture, or heritage. It’s often used in an inclusive and friendly manner to describe a close-knit group of friends or a community of like-minded individuals. It can be loosely translated into English as crew, gang, or buddies, depending on the context.
Compadre / Comadre
In Spanish-speaking regions with a Catholic heritage, compadre and comadre are used used to refer to the godparents of a child in a baptism. Over time, these terms were used outside of the religious aspect and evolved to also mean close and trusted friends, especially among families.
Compinche is a word that emphasizes complicity and friendship. It’s someone with whom you share secrets and adventures, like a sidekick.
Compa or compi are shortened and affectionate forms of saying compañero or compañera, which translate as a generic form of companion. These shortened terms denote a close and supportive relationship.
Cuate is a word commonly used in Mexico to refer to a close friend. It implies a solid and trustworthy friendship. This word comes from the Náhuatl word “coatl,” meaning snake or twin. The idea of being the same or equal is what gave way to this word becoming a synonym for friend in Spanish.
In Peru, the word pata is commonly used as a colloquial term to refer to a friend or buddy. It’s a friendly and informal way to address or refer to someone you are on good terms with or have a close relationship with. Depending on the context and the relationship between individuals, it can be used to denote camaraderie and friendship. It’s similar in usage to terms like mate or buddy in English.
Ñaño / Ñaña
This word comes from the Quechua word “ñaña” which means her sister. Adopted into the Spanish language, it now has masculine, feminine, and plural forms. Today it is used in Ecuadorian speech to refer to siblings, as well as very close friends.
Although the origin of this word is not fully established, causa is a popular way of saying friend in Spanish in Peru. Coincidentally, one of the most famous dishes of Peruvian gastronomy bears the same name.
Literally speaking, yunta means yoke, which is a device that joins a pair of animals such as mules or oxen to perform a job, such as plowing. Due to the closeness implied by the term, it has also been taken to describe those inseparable friends that go everywhere together.
Mano, Manito / Mana, Manita
Mano is the short form of hermano, so it’s equivalent to bro in Spanish. We also have the same for sister, shortening hermana to mana to refer to a female friend as your sistah in Spanish. It is also very common to use the diminutive forms manito and manita to make these even more affectionate.
Parcero / Parcera, Parce
Parcero or parcera are informal terms used in Colombia to refer to close friends. These words convey friendship and camaraderie. The shortened version, parce, can be used to refer to both men and women.
Tío / Tía
Although tío and tía literally mean uncle and aunt in English, here it’s totally unrelated to family ties. In Spain, tío or tía is often used similarly to guy in English, used to get a friend’s attention. However, it can also be used with very trustworthy people to mean friend in Spanish.
Colega commonly refers to a work colleague, but it can also be used informally to refer to friends with whom you share interests and activities. This word is especially common in Spain as a straightforward word for a Spanish friend.
Other relationships in Spanish
Now that we know how to say friend in Spanish, let’s take a look at other levels of relationships so you know the correct way to address everyone and avoid misunderstandings. We’ll also point you to our post on Spanish family words for all the terms for people you’re related to.
Conocido / Conocida
Conocido and conocida are terms used to describe acquaintances or people you know. These words don’t imply a close friendship, but rather a level of familiarity. They can be used to refer to someone you’ve met or interacted with, but may not have a deep personal bond with.
Compañero / Compañera
This expression is commonly employed to denote an individual with whom you share a professional association, like a coworker or fellow student. It communicates a feeling of solidarity and mutual regard, without necessarily implying a bond of friendship.
Conclusion: Spanish words for Friend
Well done, friends! That was a very fun journey, but now it’s time for a friendly recap.
In the Spanish-speaking world, friendship is expressed in many ways, and these words and expressions reflect the richness of personal relationships in different regions and cultures.
Whether you call someone hermano, pana, socio, or bro, what matters is the special connection you share with that person. These words remind us that friendship is a universal value, regardless of how we express it in language. So, take the chance, and practice with your pals, all these new ways to say friend in Spanish!
More Spanish Slang
Since a lot of these terms for Spanish friends can be considered as regional slang, perhaps you’re also interested in additional Spanish slang vocab. We’ll leave you with links to our popular series of regional slang in Spanish!
- Argentine slang
- Bolivian slang
- Chilean slang
- Colombian slang
- Medellín Spanish slang words
- Medellín Spanish slang expressions
- Costa Rican slang
- Cuban slang
- Dominican Republic and Caribbean slang
- Ecuadorean slang
- El Salvadorean slang
- Guatemalan slang
- Honduran slang
- Mexican slang
- Nicaraguan slang
- Panamanian slang
- Paraguayan slang
- Peruvian slang
- Puerto Rican slang
- Spaniard slang from Spain
- Uruguayan slang
- Venezuelan slang words
- Venezuelan slang expressions
- Spanish curse words and insults