Both "Klassenkamerad", and "Schulfreund" are used for a classmate in school. Are there different connotations, regional differences, or social differences when using one or the other?

6 Answers 6


Oh yes, there is quite a distinction to make between these two words.

"Klassenkamerad" indicates a person who shares the same class with the person speaking. However, it doesn't say anything about the relationship between these two persons! They might be friends, but they also might be archenemies. It simply indicates the share the same class(es).

"Schulfreund" on the other hand clearly implies a friendship that is related to having spent some time together in school. In most usecases Two "Schulfreunde" don't even have to be in the same class, it's enough that they spent some time together in the same school, so it refers to the place where you met. But there is another subtle distinction: A "Schulfreund" might also be a friend that you got to know at an age where you both went to school, so it doesn't even have to be the same school you two went to.


For me, a Klassenkamerad is somebody in the same class, where I get along with (so, we have a friendly relationship. I wouldn't use it for somebody I do not like - apart form sarcastic usage).

A Schulfreund is a friend from schooltimes, not necessarily in the same class. The relationship is closer then a Klassenkamerad.

A Klassenkamerad is defined by random - somebody else (the school) put us together., A Schulfreund is selected by me amongst my Schulkameraden.


Both Klassenkamerad and Schulfreund is used by third people to refer to someone who just went to the same class, but Schulfreund is also sometimes used in the narrower sense of specifying that this is a friend you know from school.

Note that it is not uncommon to falsely use friend like this, compare the joke:

Wie steigert man Feind?

Feind, Todfeind, Parteifreund

(How to you form the comparative and superlative of enemy? enemy, archenemy, "friend" from the same party)

Here, again Parteifreund is an euphemistic term to denote someone from the same party, it is practically always used by third people and often with an ironic connotation.

  • 3
    "Feind, Todfeind, Parteifreund, ich kann deine Fresse nicht mehr sehen" ;)
    – Hauser
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 17:01
  • Is this euphemism also true for "Schulfreund"?
    – Takkat
    Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 7:01
  • @Takkat: It can be. It depends on context.
    – Phira
    Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 7:40
  • @Takkat: I've often heard the "Freund -> Feind > Parteifreund" series but I've never heard it with "Schulfreund". Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 10:57

"♪♪♪ Ich hat' einen Kameraden ♪♪♪ ..."

Kamerad has associations to military, so I would would expect it more often in older contexts, where the school was more authoritative than today, and I would not use it for female class mates, since female soldiers are very rare in Germany.

  • 2
    Interestingly this seems not to be the case (I checked this before asking): Google Ngram
    – Takkat
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 15:24
  • Ich verstehe nicht ganz - inwiefern zeigt die Grafik was? Seit 1920 nimmt die Verwendung von "Klassenkamerad" zu, aber von welcher Zeit handeln die betreffenden Textstellen? Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 15:28
  • Here's another ngram in regard to the female aspect ;)
    – Takkat
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 15:43

I think "Klassenkamerad" is very close to "Mitschüler". Both meaning just someone who happened to be in the class in school as someone else, nothing said about the relation between both.

"Schulfreund" is used to denote some positive relations, and spending time together out of school.


I suppose user is right insofar as Klassenkamerad has a slightly old fashioned feel to it. Very young people probably wouldn't use it. The military connection is not very strong, though. Also, "Klassenkameradin" for a girl is absolutely acceptable as far as I'm aware.

The distinction is exactly like the others said - similar to "classmate" vs. "friend from school": despite the "-mate", the former is not necessarily a real mate of yours, the latter is.

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