More than one best friend

There is a lot of debate over whether it’s possible to have more than one best friend. After all, the term best is a superlative, and only one entity can hold a superlative.

But do you take the term best literally?

Language evolves — we all know that. I think that this is the reason why it is more common today for people to say that they have multiple best friends. The term has gone beyond meaning one and only and now, to many, means a very close, very important, very significant friend.

Take a group of four girls who spend all of their time together. They have plenty of outside friends from school and drama club and camp, but nobody even comes remotely close to their group.

I should know — I was one of those girls.

My sister will always be my best and closest friend. But beyond that, I’ve always had many best friends. Take the Brood — my three best friends from high school. We’re still very close, even after we’ve flung ourselves to different parts of the country.

Still, there are people who use the term best friend for one person or completely obliterate it altogether, referring to everyone as close friends.

Rachel Robinson did in Judy Blume’s book Just as Long as We’re Together. I haven’t read that book since I was in middle school, but I remember Rachel’s outburst at the end clearly: “How can we all be best friends? Best means best! It’s impossible to have more than one best friend!” In the end, the three girls decide to consider each other “close friends.”

Is it really impossible, though?

I know that opinions greatly differ.

My question to you:

Is it possible to have more than one best friend?

The Brood: my best friends of all time. Here we are in Montreal in 2002, just a few weeks before going off to college.

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16 responses to “More than one best friend

  1. I do believe that you can have more than one best friend. I know I do.

  2. I know this is probably going to make you cringe, but I refer to my long time best friend as my “BFF” and my newer really really close friends as my best friends. Example: When my BFF finally came out here to visit, she got a chance to meet my best friends from college.
    I think I started making this distinction in conversation because my BFF felt that a person could not have multiple best friends.

  3. I’m not so sure best needs to refer to “only one entity.” Take, for example, the best-of album for any band. Or the Best Such-and-Such anthologies appearing yearly in bookstores. Among many, they are the best of the lot, without singling out any particular one. I don’t see why this couldn’t hold true for people (even if I personally believe I have one best friend).

  4. Bryan D. Catherman

    I guess we need to ask if a person can have only one worst friend.

  5. I, too, have a brood. We’ve been friends since high school, but we didn’t become close until after graduation. Then I have my “life-long best friend” although her and I don’t see each other as much as I’d like, we’re still very close.

    I think you can have more than one “best friend.” I refer to each of them as my “best friend.” As a group I would call them my “best friends,” which doesn’t sound wrong.

  6. Just call me Joe

    I’m shooting for penultimate friend status.

  7. I’m sold on your introuductory explanation ’bout superlatives.

    You can have good friends.

    You can have better friends.

    Then, you can have a best friend.

  8. To anyone wondering at home, YES we are posing with animal pelts!

    I think I already weighed in on this convo when I chastised Kate for not saying Beth is “one of my best friends.”

  9. Dennis Fischman

    Perhaps best-friend status is on its way to becoming its own compound word?

  10. If one cannot have more than one “best friend”, then the sentence “She is one of my best friends” has no meaning.

    If the “best” must be singular, then “I have seen the best minds of my generation …” was written by an ignoramus.

  11. Just call me Joe

    The line is from the beat poem, Howl. Allen Ginsberg was a decent poet and a lot of things but a model grammarian was not one of them.

  12. You can only have one best friend, so toughen up and pick one. Sure, it’s going to hurt someone’s feelings, but that’s life. Best means best, the top, number one. So, stop being wussies and make a choice.

  13. I would agree with Glenn Ransier. Although “best” is a superlative, I feel that having “more than one ‘best friend’” equates with two or more people “tying for first place”, as so often happens in sport and other competitive situations.

  14. Okay, well which one would you make out with if you had to? That’s your best friend.

  15. shoudnt there be only 1 best freind

  16. Pingback: opinion on this short text - UsingEnglish.com ESL Forum

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