Could anyone give me an idea of how you would refer to someone who was your friend, but is no longer? She is an ex-friend of mine? A prior friend? Something else?


  • She used to be my friend/a friend (of mine), or simply: She was my friend. An "ex-friend" is also acceptable. This question is better suited to our sister site ELL. I have asked the mods to migrate your question there.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 2, 2018 at 13:19
  • "erstwhile" is a rather old word meaning "former" so either of those would work.
    – Giuseppe
    Apr 2, 2018 at 14:56
  • Heavens preserve us from "prior" used to mean "previous", which doesn't quite work here anyway. I don't answer questions in comments, so I won't say what does, as I have added my vote to the migration to ELL.
    – David
    Apr 2, 2018 at 16:41

4 Answers 4


It depends on the context:

If the person is no longer your friend because they are deceased, then use the term "late friend" (most people would understand that they are not merely tardy)

If the person is no longer your friend because of some kind of falling out, then the term "former friend" is appropriate, as is your suggestion of "ex-friend".




  • 2
    @JJJ 's response to MusicandTeaLady's answer applies equally well to yours. How does the poster or anyone else know whether your answer is right or not? If I disagree and don't back my opinion with definitions and usage examples, how does anyone know if I am right? A pain, when you are a native English speaker and know what you would say yourself, but that is the way SE ELU works, and has to work.
    – David
    Apr 2, 2018 at 16:46
  • @David I will attempt to find an authoritative reference and examples Apr 2, 2018 at 16:57

I tend not to use "ex-friend", as it tends to break up a sentence and does flow as well, and also could lead readers to focus more on what happened between you two, instead of the rest of the sentence. A "former friend" flows well together, is formal, and, for bonus points, has alliteration.

  • Welcome to ELU, please consider adding sources to support your answers.
    – JJJ
    Apr 2, 2018 at 14:40

One possible term is "bygone." Depending on the connotation you want and the circumstances of the ending of the friendship, the term "lost friend / lost friendship" seems common

  • I'm not a fan of using Trends for stuff like this. In the search "lost friend", I suspect that most of the time "lost" is intended to be a verb, but we can't know because there is no broader context and we can't read minds.
    – Laurel
    Apr 2, 2018 at 15:25
  • I agree with you @Laurel but in this case I had a hard time sharing pertinent search results and N-grams was useless. barring the variability of google, you could go search "lost friend(ship)" and see results where the usage is a melange of verb, adjective, and grammatically incorrect. Do you think it would help if I included a screenshot of those search results instead?
    – PhotoScientist
    Apr 2, 2018 at 15:40
  • My go to is usually COCA/BNC (however when I searched COCA for "lost friend" it was clear that most of the results were for friends that were long lost, missing, or dead). For less common usages, you can use a search engine to find examples of the word being used this way and include that as evidence (I call this the "descriptivist approach").
    – Laurel
    Apr 2, 2018 at 15:52

You can also use an “old friend”. Although this can be used to signify a former friend, it can also however be interpreted as a “long-time friend” or an elderly friend.

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