In English when a man is in a relationship with another man, he can say he's his boyfriend. In German, saying "Freund" when both are of the same sex is usually understood to mean the equivalent of "friend", not implying a relationship. Same goes for women.

Is there a german word for this?


5 Answers 5


Basically there is no distinction, which sometimes makes it difficult to understand.

So when I say Das ist meine Freundin it's not obvious whether she is my girlfriend or just a friend.

Usually people then say something like Das ist eine Freundin (von mir) for the 2nd case.

Concerning the same sex - a colleague of mine is homosexual and when I speak of his Freund it's not obvious for others that I mean his boyfriend.

So, German pretty much lacks a word here...

  • It is easy and unambigous though if you refer to your best friend: "bester Freund"/"beste Freunding". This clearly does not refer to your boy-/girlfriend.
    – mthomas
    Aug 24, 2012 at 16:05
  • 1
    I sometimes hear Germans speaking German and using the English words by/girl-friend to refer to a partner and the German words for "just good friends".
    – Mawg
    Jul 3, 2015 at 6:31
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    German has the term "Lebensgefährte" for exactly this occasion, this answer is misleading.
    – Polygnome
    May 22, 2017 at 8:02
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    @Polygnome But this word isn't used by anyone <30 years old.
    – moritzg
    May 22, 2017 at 11:33
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    @Mawg when my german friend talks to me (in English), she said something like "a girlfriend of me..." which i think literally she means "eine Freundin von mir..."
    – Solo
    May 24, 2017 at 1:18

A boyfriend could be called »fester Freund«, a girlfriend »feste Freundin«.

There is also the term Partner (Partnerin) or, to clarify that it’s not a business partner, Lebenspartner (Lebenspartnerin). Another term is Lebensgefährte (Lebensgefährtin).

  • 3
    "Gender-neutral" is the wrong word: There are the clearly female forms "Partnerin" and "Lebensgefährtin". "Schatz" would be gender-neutral, because it remains the same whether your "Schatz" is male or female.
    – elena
    Aug 15, 2012 at 11:45
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    @elena: As far as I know »Partner« and »Gefährte« are 'generisch maskulin'. So if someone says »Da kommt mein Partner« it is not 100% clear whether it's a male or a female person. You can only be sure if it is a female person and the speaker uses the female form. But the speaker doesn't have to use it. If the »Partner« is a female person it would be still correct to say »Da kommt mein Partner«. But I see that "gender-neutral" is not the right term for it, because a female form can be used.
    – unor
    Aug 15, 2012 at 12:15
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    @StephaneRolland: It depends on your operating system and/or keyboard layout. On Gnome (GNU/Linux) I can type it with Alt Gr + 1. You can find a list of some subscript/superscript characters on Wikipedia. Feel free to ask a question on Superuser, where it can be discussed in more detail.
    – unor
    Aug 15, 2012 at 21:40
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    @unor, if the partner is a female person and is just approaching, it would NOT be correct to say "Da kommt mein Partner." To a native speaker of German "Partner" in this context is male. If I see a woman approaching and the person next to me says "Da kommt mein Partner", I would not clock that it's the woman they're talking about.
    – teylyn
    Aug 17, 2012 at 10:58
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    @teylyn: I agree that in this case it would be unusual not to use the feminine form. But afaik it would be strictly considered correct. In other situations it might become more clear: "Jeder darf seinen Partner mitbringen" (most wouldn't think that only male partners are welcome). Even clearer with the plural: a boy that says "meine bisherigen Partner" (instead of "Partnerinnen") doesn't necessarily mean only male partners. –– de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generisches_Maskulinum
    – unor
    Aug 17, 2012 at 14:20

The only correct answer is: no. Both friend and boyfriend are "Freund" in German, and this often causes confusion.

  • 1
    While "Freund" can be attributed to make things clearer, as in er ist mein bester Freund (he's my best friend) or sie ist meine feste Freundin (she's my girlfriend). Also, the use of the article/personal pronoun can add a meaning: er ist ein Freund (he's a friend) versus er ist mein Freund (he's my boyfriend). Oct 18, 2012 at 13:55

German does not have a single word for this - and in fact, this isn't as easy to express as in english.

In german, when you say

Das ist mein(e) Freund(in)

most people will assume its your boyfriend/girlfriend.

However, if you say

Das ist ein(e) Freund(in) (von mir)

then most people will understand its just a friend, not your boyfriend/girlfriend.

So the difference is in mein(e)/ein(e), which makes it a bit hard to grasp.

With same-sex relationships, its not that easy. Most people will simply not assume you are gay/lesbian, unless you came out to them before.

You can, however, use other terms to refer to your boyfriend/gilfriend.
While young people (teens mostly) will prefer "Freund(in)", adults often use Partner(in) or Lebensgefährt(e/in) to describe their romantic partner.
This works very well for same-sex partnerships, too, and is in fact what I'd recommend using. If a male person introduces someone as his "Lebengefährte", its quite damn clear what he meant. No confusions. Same applies for female and "Lebensgefährtin".

Its also clear if you talk about other persons. If you have a gay friend and talk about his "Lebensgefährte", everyone will understand. If you talk about his "Freund", not so much.

  • Even partner can be ambiguous (if used in a setting with a business aspect). Jun 8, 2020 at 10:55
  • @Peter-ReinstateMonica If you are in a business context and need to make in unambiguous, you can use Lebensgefährte/in.
    – Polygnome
    Jun 8, 2020 at 11:15

As a gay man who has close German relatives I refer to my boyfriend with them (so for introductions or clarification) as Liebesfreund (implying a romantic relationship) versus referring to male friends of mine as ein Freund.

  • Mein lieber Freund X will be understood as my dear friend X, so it’s actually not a good option.
    – chirlu
    Nov 8, 2015 at 19:30
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    Welcome! Making up words like Liebesfreund may work and even be charming, but I understood the question as being about German as spoken by Germans ;)
    – Carsten S
    Nov 8, 2015 at 21:32
  • @carsten yeah I was looking for words germans use primarily. But I am open for creative word combinations aswell. "Liebesfreund".. I have never heard it, but it sounds interesting Nov 8, 2015 at 22:24
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    @JohannesSchaub-litb, I was trying to say that this is BS and be nice about it.
    – Carsten S
    Nov 9, 2015 at 9:53
  • Or «Intimfreund», but this is probably TMI for many people.
    – nalply
    Jul 6, 2019 at 18:11

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