A friend in need

Posted by ESC on March 18, 2002

In Reply to: Bob's Your Uncle. posted by TheUnlurker on March 18, 2002

: ESC said...
: :...'Uncle' is British (as well as American) slang for 'pawnbroker,' and a pawnbroker is, presumably, a friend in need...

: How is a pawnbroker a friend "in need"? Surely, if anything, the pawner (pawnor/pawnee/whatever) is the one in need.

He is a friend when you are in need.

A FRIEND IN NEED IS A FRIEND INDEED -- Someone who comes to your aid when you're in difficulty is a true friend. Here is the opposite of the fair-weather friend. The thought is old enough to have a Latin version and variants in medieval English going back to 1275. The modern version is close at hand in Richard Whytford's 'Werke for Householders' : 'A true frende loueth at all tymes and neuer feyleth at nede.'" From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).