There is a phrase in our language that its literal translation to English will be "The friendship of auntie bear". In order to explain when we use this phrase, I will tell you the story behind this phrase:

A man had a bear friend. One day, while this man was sleeping, a number of flies collected on his face. The bear decided to help his friend by driving them off, so she lifted up a stone of 20 man's weight and threw it to the face of the man in order to kill the fly. The fly escaped, but the man died due to the hit.

So as you see, this phrase is used to refer to a friend that loves you and wants to help you, but he makes serious problems (and even kills you!) by doing stupid things for you. (This is when we say a wise enemy is better than an ignorant friend.)

I'm wondering if there is a word or phrase in English for this kind of friendship.


If you're in the part of the USA where lots of Yiddish words have entered into the vernacular (mostly the urban Northeast), then you'll encounter the schlemiel. A schlemiel is a very clumsy or unclever person who generally means well, but causes chaos all around him.

Quoting from the wikipedia article linked above:

The inept schlemiel is often presented alongside the unlucky schlimazel. A Yiddish saying explains that "a schlemiel is somebody who often spills his soup and a schlimazel is the person it lands on."

There's no particular connotation of friendship though - a schlemiel is as dangerous to strangers as he is to close associates; although he may cause more damage to the latter just because of frequent proximity.

  • Far be it from me to discourage anyone from using Yiddish (generally), but I don't think schlemiel works here. Yes, a schlemiel's bad luck might hurt a friend he was trying to help, but he might also hurt a friend he wasn't trying to help. The schlimiel's bad luck is too generalized. The khaleh kharshe (the Persian idiom we're discussing) causes problems only when trying to help. This character exists in American culture, but I don't think we have a name for it. – Juhasz Oct 19 '18 at 15:25

There is a somewhat similar idiom in English:

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

However, this idiom is not reserved for good intent. For example it could also apply to a supposed friend who does not act kindly.

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