A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed – Proverb Meaning and Expansion of idea


The proverb ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ means that a friend that helps in adversity and stands by our side, is a friend in true sense. Friendship is tested in tough times and the friend who stays with you through thick and thin is your true friend. There are many who would part their ways with you, seeing you in trouble. Such people are only your friends for namesake but are not true friends. The bottom line to test a true friend is to test him/her in difficulty.

Expansion of idea

A friend in need is a friend indeed tells us that only that friend who stays by our side in need is the true friend. Any person usually has many friends, his colleagues, neighbors, some old school friends, etc. But, many of them may be friends for the only namesake. That is they might just disappear when one gets in trouble. On the contrary, a friend of yours who stays with you in difficult times is actually a true friend.

A true friend will always be there to help you, just when you need him/her the most. He/she is the one who stays at your side when there is no one around. When all your so-called friends disappear, only a true friend remains in proximity.

Short Stories on ‘A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed’

A story themed around a proverb is the best way to understand its true meaning and relevance in our everyday life. The more interesting the story is, the better it is. Keeping this in mind, I am giving below a couple of stories with the theme ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’. The stories are fresh and with real-life characters.

Short Story 1

Once there lived three friends named Ram, Shyam, and Ghanshyam, in a remote Indian village. Ram and Ghanshyam were average in studies but Shyam was a brilliant student, who always prided himself for his impeccable handwriting and notes. Ram and Shyam spoke of themselves as best friends, often making Ghanshyam uncomfortable. They were known to be good friends and were found together most of the time. They play and study together. Life was going as usual, for the three of them without any incident.

One fine day, they were walking back home from school when Ram slipped and cracked his ankle. It had rained last night and the road was slippery at some places. Ram was unable to attend school for a full week. He was really worried about his absence but was sure that he would get the notes from his friend Shyam. In the meantime, Shyam and Ghanshyam went to school together.

When they finally met after ten days, Ram was still recovering and worried about the exams next month. When he asked Shyam for the notes, to his surprise, he said no, stating that he has to study for the exams. Ram was heartbroken he thought of Shyam as his best friend.

When Ram was sitting alone in the lunch break, Ghanshyam came and offered all his notes to him. He also offered Ram to study together for the exams. That day Ram knew that Ghanshyam is the only true friend while Shyam had been namesake. He remembered a chapter from his moral book titled ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed.’

Short Story 2

There lived an old priest in a small temple located at the hilltop. There lived a caretaker with him, whose name was Bhola. There was also a dog named Tommy who lived with them. Spending time together, the three became closely connected to one another. Especially the priest and Bhola were good friends.

One day the priest had to go to the village below to purchase groceries. He took Bhola with him and the dog also followed. While they were descending through the thickest, they heard a loud trumpet of an elephant. Sensing danger, Bhola ran for his life back to the temple, leaving the priest and the dog alone, which now faced a wild elephant.

The priest just stood terrified while the elephant prepared a charge, but Tommy tried to shield the priest and barked continuously at the elephant. The dog’s courage paid off and the elephant went back in the forest. Relieved, the priest took the dog in his lap and thanked it for the courage displayed in time of need.

They both went to the village and on their way back met Bhola, who was now descending to enquire. He was a little bit ashamed of leaving the priest alone. The priest said – Today I know that Tommy is my best friend but not you Bhola because a friend in need is a friend indeed.


Real-life examples help you understand the true meaning of a proverb. You will remember the example and its morale for life. I am writing below some fresh examples based on the theme ‘A friend in need is the friend indeed’.

“Ramesh had many friends, but only Suresh was with him when he got ill. From that day Ramesh knew that Suresh was his true friend because a friend in need is a friend indeed.”

“One two friends were going through a forest when suddenly they heard a roar. The friend, who had the only gun, ran away leaving the other alone. He wasn’t a true friend because a friend in need is a friend indeed.”

“My dog is my best friend because it never ever leaves my side, come what may. I am sure that it will stay with me even if we are facing a tiger together. A friend in need is definitely a friend indeed.”

“When I was looking for accommodation and asked several friends of mine to allow me to share their apartment, they all refused. Only Ramesh willingly let me share his flat. That day I knew that Ramesh is my true friend because a friend in need is a friend indeed.”

“When I lost my job, only my brother eagerly helped me out at every step. All the friends of mine had just disappeared. That day I knew that my brother is the only best friend I have, as a friend in need is a friend indeed.”


Not exactly the phrase but a similar version appeared in the writings of Quintus Ennius, a Roman writer and poet, who lived during 239-169 B.C. The original phrase was in Latin which read – “Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur.” An English translation of the phrase is – “a sure friend is known when in difficulty.” As you see that the words are different but the meaning is nevertheless the same.

An English version of the proverb came to light in the 15th century, as it is mentioned in the Oxford dictionary. It appeared in the English translation of a German tale, by William Caxton, an English writer. The phrase appeared thus – “It is sayd, that at the nede the frende is knowen.”

Since then the proverb has appeared in many plays and writings in several languages. People often use it in everyday conversations to tell each other about the true worth of a friend and friendship.


The proverb ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’ is a very important phrase that teaches us the true worth of a friend. It helps us to differentiate between true friends and just friends. It is very important that we know who our true friend is and who is not. The proverb teaches us just that.  It helps us in identifying the true friend and suitably acknowledges his/her gesture. This is a very important decision in one’s personal life.