Asking for a friend

Asking for a friend is a humorous idiom. We will examine the meaning of the common saying asking for a friend, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Asking for a friend is an idiom one uses when making an inquiry that has the potential for being embarrassing. For instance, one may say, “What should one do if he has a rash between his toes–asking for a friend.” The listener knows that it is actually the speaker who has the rash between his toes, but the speaker and listener can pretend that it is not. The expression asking for a friend came into use in the 1990s and has zoomed in popularity throughout the 2000s. It is derived from the tendency for speakers who have an embarrassing fact or question to share will often start with, “I have a friend who…”

Examples

Flossmoor librarian’s ‘Asking for a Friend’ brochures share topical information with teens (Homewood-Flosswood Chronicle)

Any words of wisdom to help people get through it? (Asking for a friend.) (Harvard Business School)

“Does that mean I could apply for a job in Silicon Valley and work remotely from, say, the Caribbean? Asking for a friend,” wrote one user on Blind, an app designed to let workers swap information anonymously. (Reuters)

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