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I'm looking for a word or term that describes the way poeople use familial words to describe their friends, such as: "brother" or "sister" (while they're not really brothers and sisters from the same father or mother). Can I use the word "nickname" in this context?

I need to use this term in such sentence:

Person A: This is my brother.

Person B: Nice to meet you.

Person C (not in front of person A): Is he really his brother or it's (=the word brother) just a (nickname? "affection word" / "fondness word"?)

I'm looking for (a) word/s to describe the usage of such words (brother & sister) in a context of friendship. "I didn't really mean that he's my brother, I used the word brother as a... (nickname?)"

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  • In BrE you can use mate. "Is he/she your brother/sister or just a mate?" It is understood that the person isn't your mate in the formal sense, so that would not need a further question. – Weather Vane Apr 20 '20 at 19:42
  • If you're asking about the use of "nickname", it's not quite right there. You could ask "Is he literally your brother?". Or, you could pry a little by asking "Older or younger brother?", and you might get an answer "Well not really my brother, just a buddy." – Jack O'Flaherty Apr 20 '20 at 20:07
  • 'Step brother'? – Void Apr 20 '20 at 22:16
  • I'm asking about the word (brother) usage, meaning how to call it in a way that it'll understood what it is (I'll add information now). – Judicious Allure Apr 20 '20 at 22:26
  • I don't think there is a word in English that means exactly what you are looking for here. "Nickname" is more general and doesn't necessarily have the sense of fondness. "Terms of endearment" suggest "loving" words like honey or sweetie. – SarahT Apr 21 '20 at 16:08
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I don't think there is a word in English that means exactly what you are looking for here. "Nickname" is more general and doesn't necessarily have the sense of fondness. Words like "moniker" and "appellation" are not common in everyday speech. Also, "moniker" is often used to describe criminal nicknames like "Billy the Kid."

"Loving" words are known as "terms of endearment." Calling your good friend your "brother" could be described as a term of endearment. However, if someone asks, "Is he really your brother" you would probably have to answer that he's your good friend, old friend, or best friend, etc.

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“Nickname” is not the correct word to use to characterize a friend who is special to you. You can say that he is “like a brother” to you. “Mate” may work in some countries, but to me, an American, it does not necessarily get the job done. If I were introducing him to others and wanted to convey to them that he was more than just a friend, I would say “This is my very good friend Steve.”

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  • Calling your friend your "mate" is actually risky in American English, because it can have a sexual connotation. – SarahT Apr 21 '20 at 1:20
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Here is how the dialog might go:

Person A: This is my bro.
Person B: Is he really your brother, or are you just saying that?

A nickname is usually more specific to a person. Consider this quote from dictionary.com: "He has always loathed his nickname of “Whizzer." That's specific. Simply "brother" is too general to be a nickname.

thesaurus.com yields:
moniker
appellation
(and a few others)

These are good answers (if you are a novelist). They are quite literary words not heard in everyday speech.

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