1. General course of manners; behavior; deportment; especially as it respects morals.
Let your conversation be as becometh the gospel. Phil 1.
Be ye holy in all manner of conversation. 1 Pet 1.
2. A keeping company; familiar intercourse; intimate fellowship or association; commerce in social life. Knowledge of men and manners is best acquired by conversation with the best company.
3. Intimate and familiar acquaintance; as a conversation with books, or other object.
4. Familiar discourse; general intercourse of sentiments; chat; unrestrained talk; opposed to a formal conference.
What I mentioned in conversation was not a new thought.
[This is now the most general use of the word.]
Apparently, where language is concerned, I’m a classicist, in that I am comfortable with many of the traditional English definitions. For example, conversation, defined by Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, receives four variant definitions. The first of which is obviously obsolete, while the second through the fourth remain as useful definitions.
The problem with a fluid language is during a word’s transition to a different use, we risk significant misunderstanding by using it without attaching disclaimers or caveats.
By Webster’s definitions, Conversation, as an activity, implied no superficiality, but conveyed honest, even probing communication intended to further one’s knowledge of another person’s character, preferences and values. Parties to such conversation must mutually understand the trust-factor required and either agree to it or set clear limits on it. Setting such limits, however, introduces the question of why they need to be in place, as friendship infers no such constraints.
How, then, does Webster’s 1828 Dictionary define friend? Glad you asked.
FRIEND, n. frend.
1. One who is attached to another by affection; one who entertains for another sentiments of esteem, respect and affection, which lead him to desire his company, and to seek to promote his happiness and prosperity; opposed to foe or enemy.
A friend loveth at all times. Prov 17.
2. One not hostile; opposed to an enemy in war.
3. One reconciled after enmity. Let us be friends again.
4. An attendant; a companion.
5. A favorer; one who is propitious; as a friend to commerce; a friend to poetry; a friend to charitable institution.
6. A favorite. Hushai was David's friend.
7. A term of salutation; a familiar compellation.
Friend, how camest thou in hither? Mat 22.
So Christ calls Judas his friend, though a traitor.
8. Formerly, a paramour.
9. A friend at court, one who has sufficient interest to serve another.
FRIEND, v.t. frend. To favor; to countenance; to befriend; to support or aid. [But we now use befriend.]