12 Friendship Symbols From Across the Ages

We've rounded up the coolest friendship symbols you never knew existed. Now you can share them with your forever friends.

Published July 11, 2023

You don't get to choose your family, but you do get to choose your friends. Everyone loves a ride-or-die that'll be by their side for life. We've been honoring our deep friendships through written words and symbolic gifts for generations. Learn more about the friendship symbols we've used to show our affection and what they've transformed into today.

Celtic Symbol of Friendship: Claddagh


The Claddagh ring is a prominent feature in Celtic history that's been passed down since at least the 18th century. This symbol features two hands clasping a heart that bears a crown, and was traditionally given as tokens of friendship, loyalty, and love.

Today, most people associate Claddagh rings with romantic love, but it's not limited to this kind of affection. Your bond with the person who gave it to you determines exactly what sort of connection it represents. It's no wonder that this delicate symbol is still so popular.

Chinese Symbol of Friendship: 友


Over time, multiple dialects of the Chinese language have developed, each of which have their own way to refer to friends. However, one way to write the script for friend in simplified Chinese is 友.

Granted, there's a long history of people using Chinese script as tattoo inspiration and getting it viciously wrong, so it's best not to get a phrase in a non-native language tattooed on you unless you've gotten a fluent speaker to help you craft it.

Japanese Symbol of Friendship: Shin'yuu


Just like with Chinese dialects, Japanese is a logogram language. Basically, the written form uses symbols rather than sounds to represent words or phrases. In Japanese, the word Shin'yuu and accompanying symbol in Kanji (one of the written forms of Japanese) is reserved for your best friend, your bosom buddy.

Roman Friendship Symbols: Amicitia and Fides


Amicitia is Latin for friendship or alliance and was used to describe a connection beyond your standard affectionate bond between two people in Ancient Rome.

This friendship, known as Fides, was more formal, and couldn't be claimed just by words. Instead, the individual people in these amicitial bonds were compelled to show their loyalty and appreciation for their friends with gifts and tokens that were reciprocated.

Friendship in the Language of Flowers


Although the Victorians popularized using flowers to send messages to your loved ones, the practice has been going on for much longer. Yellow roses are the most notorious of the friend flowers, though orange tulips, sunflowers, and daisies are also common choices.

Everyone loves finding a surprise bouquet at their front door, and there's no better way to show your friends you love and appreciate them than with a cheerful and bright colored flower arrangement.

Hawaiian Friendship Symbols: Shaka


The shaka is a Hawaiian hand sign that 60s surf culture ran with. You probably think of this closed fist with extended pinky and thumb wave for something like "hang ten," but at its heart, it communicates a general feeling of friendliness and understanding.

Modern Friendship Symbols: Matching Tattoos


Although tattoos are an ancient human tradition, they only resurfaced as a western trend in the late-19th century. Except for the odd veteran with militaria tattooed on them, it wasn't until in recent years that tattoos became less stigmatized, leading more people to recreationally get tattoos.

Thus sparked the 'matching tattoo' trend that's led so many college kids to canonize their friendships in ink. The possibilities are endless, from matching the exact design to sharing parts of a whole piece. If you love getting permanent art, it's a special way to cement your bond.

Modern Friendship Symbols: Friendship Bracelets and Necklaces


From romantic gestures with lockets full of snippets of your hair to mourning jewelry worn with mementos of the people you lost, jewelry has been used for centuries as a way to show your affection for someone.

However, you don't have to feel a deep romantic love for a person to share a piece of jewelry together. For decades, kids have been customizing friendship bracelets with letters, phrases, and matching designs. And fast-fashion creators have manufactured a host of more sophisticated designs adults can buy for each other.

If you love your friend a whole lot, then consider getting them a matching friendship bracelet the next time they're feeling down.

Animals as Symbols of Friendship


Did you know that there are some specific animals that symbolize friendship? These include:

  • Dogs
  • Turtledoves
  • Dolphins
  • Horses
  • Wolves

These animals all have traits that align them with friendship, from the symbolism of the dolphin as a loyal protector to the real-life love of 'man's best friend.'

Gemstones That Mean Friendship


There are also a number of gemstones and crystals believed to symbolize friendship. One of the most common is lapis lazuli, which can indicate truth and companship. Other options we love that are associated with friendship include:

  • Yellow topaz
  • Amethyst
  • Rose quartz
  • Moss agate
  • Moonstone
  • Peridot

Infinity Symbol for Eternal Friendship


Though English mathematician John Wallis is credited with coming up with the mathematic meaning of the infinity symbol, today it's often associated with eternal love and friendship.

Honor Your Friends in a Fun Way


Pop culture is so obsessed with romantic love that the deeply enriching experience of platonic love doesn't get the praise it deserves. Friendships are some of the most important connections you make in your life.

So much so, that various symbols and tokens have been created to honor this experience. You can also use something that has a special meaning to both of you as a shared symbol or your individual friendship. Whether it's as a gift, message, or something the two of you share; there are so many ways to express and honor your friendship.

No matter how you do it, you can show your friends some love with these beautiful symbols that commemorate your bond.

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12 Friendship Symbols From Across the Ages