Learn English – More natural noun for someone who you chat with


I'm looking for a noun, that people would use naturally while refering to a person who they chat with – in the context of online chat. Imagine that you are looking for someone you could chat with. How would you call such a person?

The first word that came to my mind was chatmate, but this word doesn't seem to be commonly used. What do you think about this word? Can you suggest any alternatives that seem natural to you?

I've also found the word interlocutor, which is way too formal though. There were similar questions ([1], [2]) where other words like conversationalist, converser, conversant, discussant or dialoguer were mentioned. Unfortunately these words are either getting far from the original meaning or they are words that usually won't come up to someone's mind.

Best Answer

Most people I know say chat buddy, internet friend, or online friend like @FumbleFingers and @Kristina Lopez said. You might say penpal. Although it generally means someone you write letters to (and perhaps never meet), I think it is appropriate for a friend you only know online and to whom you write. The following sentences sound natural:

  1. I was talking to an online friend the other day.
  2. I have a Skype meeting with a chat buddy later.
  3. I'm chatting with a buddy.
  4. She was my internet friend for years before we ever met in person.
  5. I was chatting with my penpal all day yesterday.

Note: in example 3, if you use the word chat (even as a verb) in a sentence, you don't have to say chat buddy, just buddy will work. Buddy already has an "online" connotation, especially used in that context.

The more I think about it, the more I like penpal.

I hope that helps!