fair-weather friend

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From fair-weather + friend, drawing an analogy between good weather and trouble-free times.



fair-weather friend (plural fair-weather friends)

  1. (idiomatic) One who is friendly, helpful, or available only when it is advantageous or convenient to be so. [from early 18th c.]
    • 1730 October 1, [Alexander] Pope, “Letters of Mr. Pope to Mr. Gay. From 1712. to 1730.”, in Letters of Mr. Pope, and Several Eminent Persons. From the Year 1705. to 1735. N.B. This Edition Contains More Letters, and More Correctly Printed, than Any Other Extant, London: Printed, and sold by the booksellers of London and Westminster, published 1735, OCLC 731609134, page 255:
      My Fair-weather Friends of the Summer are going away for London, and I ſhall ſee them and the butterflies together, if I live till next Year; which I would not deſire to do, if it were only for their ſakes.
    • 1819 December 23, [Ralph] Bernal, “[House of Commons] Blasphemous Libel Bill”, in T[homas] C[urson] Hansard, editor, The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803 to the Present Time: Forming a Continuation of the Work Entitled “The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803.”, volume XLI (Comprising the Period from the Twenty-third Day of November, 1819, to the Twenty-eight Day of February, 1820), London: Printed by T. C. Hansard, Peterborough-Court, Fleet-Street; for Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy [et al.], published 1820, OCLC 729577511, column 1524:
      [T]he liberty of the press was not to be looked upon as fit only for seasons of calmness, as a fair-weather friend to be discarded in a storm.
    • 1839, [Lucius M. Sargent], Right Opposite. Founded on Fact (The Temperance Tales; II, number 6), Boston, Mass.: Published by Whipple and Damrell, No. 9 Cornhill; New York, N.Y.: Scofield and Voorhies, No. 118 Nassau Street, OCLC 155122038, page 14:
      Ere long a portion of the village spire began to appear among the trees, and the gilded telltale on its top, in which the slippery politician, and the fair weather friend, and the doubting disciple, who is blown about by every wind of doctrine, may behold a happy emblem of life and practice.
    • 1844, T[imothy] S[hay] Arthur, chapter VI, in Cecilia Howard: Or, The Young Lady who had Finished Her Education, New York, N.Y.: John Allen, 139 Nassau Street, OCLC 1076197, page 49:
      She did not even attempt to make a reply, or to ask her fairweather friend to remain; but suffered her to leave the room and the house without a word.
    • 1852, C. Toler Wolfe, “Nothing Like Travel”, in A Book of Odds and Ends, Winchester, Va.: Printed by C. Toler Wolfe, Republican Office, OCLC 7615994, page 34:
      Be not pestered with too many friends. [] There are as many grades of friends as there are plaids in the tartan. There is the friend of "ifs, buts, and ands," who always signifies that he would if he could, but as he can't, how can he? Then comes your fair weather friend, who deserts you the very first time you founder in the mud!
    • 1871, Louisa M[ay] Alcott, “Damon and Pythias”, in Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo’s Boys, Boston, Mass.: Roberts Brothers, OCLC 634069, page 238:
      She put little nosegays from her garden on his desk, and tried in every way to show that she was not a fair-weather friend, but faithful through evil as well as good repute.
    • 1982 April 5, “Italy: New Image, New Influence”, in Time[1], archived from the original on 16 April 2016:
      [Sandro] Pertini is being embraced as the leader of a staunch and increasingly important ally—a country that, as [Ronald] Reagan put it, "is no fair-weather friend but instead is an indispensable partner."
    • 2015, Andrew Humphries; Richard Gibbs, “Operational Implications of Culture”, in Enterprise Relationship Management: A Paradigm for Alliance Success, Farnham, Surrey; Burlington, Vt.: Gower Publishing, →ISBN, page 63:
      One respondent to a Gibbs and Humphries's research initiative characterised their senior management as ‘fair weather friends’ – keen to support the partnering initiative on day one and when things are going well, but eager to distance themselves when times got tough.

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