In a formal and/or legal context, when you want to refer to a person's loved ones, what word or phrase would you use? I was thinking perhaps "next of kin", but checking various dictionaries, I get the feeling that that refers to family/relatives only, excluding close friends?

  • That is a very formal term. next of kin is administrative and cold. And you might not love your next of kin very much.
    – Lambie
    Oct 22, 2022 at 21:29
  • Maybe intimates. Oct 22, 2022 at 22:29
  • 1
    @Gerda It's not exactly common to try to avoid the term loved ones. What context are you proposing, and what are you trying to say in it? Oct 22, 2022 at 23:07
  • 1
    @JackO'Flaherty, Lambie, and gotube: Right, so "loved ones" is ok to use also in formal and/or legal contexts? I thought that was a very colloquial expression! (The context is a text about people who are terminally ill, and what rights and so on they have). I'll definitely go with "loved ones" then, since that is exactly what I'm referring to. Thank you so much for your help, all three of you!
    – Gerda
    Oct 23, 2022 at 15:31
  • 1
    "Your Honor, the plaintiffs in this very sad case lost all the members of their immediate family in the fire. All their next of kin, their loved ones"
    – Lambie
    Oct 23, 2022 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


The law doesn't tend to talk much about "friends". A friend has no special rights. The category "friend" is too vague for laws to be written around it.

Formal English is mostly about using simple and clear words. Here, if you want to include close friends too, you could formally say "relatives and close friends".

But "loved ones" isn't informal. It would be correct to use "loved ones" in a formal newspaper article or an essay.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .