Famous Sayings #124 — ‘Fair-Weather Friend/Fan’

October 1, 2018

I see that Georgia wouldn’t loan you the money even though she had it and you loaned her money when she needed it. I told you: She is a fair-weather friend.

Hey, where we you when the team was losing? You’re just a fair-weather fan.

fair-weather friend, fair-weather fan, Alexander Pope, sports fans, famous sayings
I’m not taking a jab at (other) 49ers fans, but the NFL does have quite a bit of fair-weather fans. So do other sports. I will say that I’m not a fan of the 49ers’ move to Santa Clara, though. Image from Pixabay.

This week, I chose a couple of phrases that are connected in meaning, but the first may have first been recorded in this day in history.

What Is a Fair-Weather Fan?

A fair-weather friend (also spelled “fair weather friend” or “fairweather friend”) is a person who is only there during the good times but is nowhere to be found when you are struggling. The person will gladly accept your help but will return the favor, even if you need it most.

When you in the hour of your greatest need, that is when you find out when your friends are. This sentiment is similar to the phrase “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

What Is a Fair-Weather Fan?

Of course, the phrase “fair-weather fan” evolved from the previous phrase, and it is a pejorative term usually applied to sports fans. In an article for wiseGEEK, Mary McMahon added that the term may also be applied to someone who follows politics, music, and figures in the entertainment industry.

Generally, a fair-weather fan is a person who only follows a sports team when that team is doing well. That person will then disappear when that team starts struggling. This is in sharp contrast to a die-hard fan, who will stick with the same team through thick and thin.

A fair-weather fan is not only annoying because of their lack of loyalty, but also the fact that they may often get better seats than long-time fans (“Fair Weather Fans). Additionally, these types of fans may be the most enthusiastic when times are good (McMahon). And their over-the-top enthusiasm can cut into a die-hard fan’s enjoyment.

Some people believe that a fair-weather fan might move onto another team’s bandwagon. However, I would just call that person a “bandwagoner.” A fair-weather fan doesn’t necessarily have to move onto another team; instead, the fan always maintains a passing interest in one team but only shows up when that team is doing well (“fair weather”).

Who First Used the Term ‘Fair-Weather Friend’?

The earliest recorded usage of the phrase “fair weather friend” is found in an October 1, 1730 letter written by Alexander Pope to a Mr. Gay:

I shall certainly make as little Court to others as they do to me, and that will be none at all. My Fair-weather-Friends of the Summer are going away to London, and I shall fee them and the Butterflies together, if I live till next Year; which I would not desire to do, if it were only for their fakes …

It seems that Pope used the term as we know it today.

What Do I Think?

I’m not too concerned with fair-weather fans — beyond any over-the-top enthusiasm. To be honest, I’m more of a casual fan myself, although I can get invested in a well-played sports contest. Overall, I try to maintain an even keel because it’s unhealthy to tie too much energy and emotion into the games.

Now, I don’t care for fair-weather fans. That should be obvious, because those types of “friends” aren’t really friends at all. They are users and opportunists, so I don’t have much use for them.

Works Cited

“Fair-weather | Define Fair-weather at Dictionary.com.” Dictionary.com. Web. Retrieved 1 Oct 2018. <https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fair-weather>.

“Fair-weather | Definition of Fair-weather by Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. Web. Retrieved 1 Oct 2018. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fair-weather>.

“Fair-weather friend – Idioms by The Free Dictionary. The Free Dictionary. Farlex, Inc. Web. Retrieved 1 Oct 2018. <https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/fair-weather+friend>.

“fair-weather friend Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary.” Cambridge English Dictionary. Web. Retrieved 1 October 2018. <https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/fair-weather-friend>.

“fair-weather friend.” Wiktionary. Last Updated Web. Retrieved 30 September 2018. <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fair-weather_friend>.

“Letters of Mr. Pope to Mr. Gay. From 1712. To 1730.” Letters of Mr. Pope, and Several Eminent Persons. From the Year 1705. to 1735. London and Westminster. London; 1735. Print. Via Google Books. Pages 254-255. <https://books.google.com/books?id=u075WPEcfDQC&pg=PA257>.

McMahon, Mary. “What is a Fairweather Fan?” wiseGEEK. Last Modified 29 Sept 2018. Web. Retrieved 1 Oct 2018. <https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-fairweather-fan.htm>.

Various Authors. “Urban Dictionary: Fair Weather Fan.” Urban Dictionary. Last Updated 19 July 2017. Web. Retrieved 1 Oct 2018. <https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Fair%20Weather%20Fan>.

Various Authors. “Urban Dictionary: fair weather friend.” Urban Dictionary. 23 Oct 2003. Last Updated 10 Apr 2017. Web. Retrieved 1 Oct 2018. <https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fair%20weather%20friend>.

Various Authors. “Urban Dictionary: Fair Weather.” Urban Dictionary. 20 Oct 2007. Last Updated 18 Aug 2012. Web. Retrieved 1 Oct 2018. <https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Fair%20Weather>.

5 thoughts on “Famous Sayings #124 — ‘Fair-Weather Friend/Fan’

        1. Basically, we share a few favorite teams. Whenever some of those teams were getting beaten badly or it looked like there were going to lose late, I wanted to turn away from the TV. She would then jab me and say, “You’re just a fair-weather fan.” 😛


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