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Does "подруга" mean girlfriend as in "girl friend", ie a female friend, or as in "girlfriend", a romantic interest?

Doing a google image search for подруга seems to be getting matches for both types.

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"Girlfriend" and "boyfriend" are most usually conveyed in Russian as девушка and парень (or молодой человек).

Подруга usually means "girlfriend" as well but its meaning is somewhat less suggestive of a romantic relationship than that of девушка.

As a male you do not call your female friend подруга, not without raising an eyebrow. Women, on the other hand, could refer their female friends as моя подруга (while using моя девушка would unequivocally imply romantic relationship with her).

If you want to rule out any romantic component in describing your friendship, you should use знакомая ("acquaintance") or приятельница (female equivalent of "buddy").

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    "As a male you do not call your female friend подруга, not without raising an eyebrow. Women, on the other hand, could refer their female friends as моя подруга " - oddly enough, the very same point applies to English "girlfriend". – Random832 Jan 25 '17 at 17:16
  • 20 years ago "подруга" among teenagers could mean just "a girl". Don't know if it's still true. – Artemix Jan 25 '17 at 17:38
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    @Random832: are you saying that in English a woman could call her friend "my girlfriend" (as a single word, with "girl" stressed) without raising questions like "are you two guys...?" – Quassnoi Jan 25 '17 at 17:49
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    @Artemix: if you mean something like ко мне на улице подошла какая-то подруга и стрельнула сигарету ("some chick approached me on the street and bummed a smoke off me"), then yes, it's still a thing. – Quassnoi Jan 25 '17 at 18:03
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    Actually, being male, I don't think I can't say "моя подруга" about my female friend - especially with a name, plural or another context showing indefiniteness (so that it could be understood as "a female friend of mine"). It might imply something more if indefiniteness isn't clear but usually even then it doesn't. – Viridianus Jan 25 '17 at 23:09
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In addition to other answers (especially Quassnoi's)

  1. From time to time old-fashioned peoples (like grand parents) can use 'подруга' in meaning "girlfriend":

    • У него есть подруга (He has a girlfriend?)
    • Нет (No)
  2. Also when you talking about specific women, you can use "подруга" in meaning GF:

    • Итак, Джулия... она твоя подруга? (So... Julia, is she your GF?)
    • Нет, просто друг. (No. Just a friend)
  3. Between man and woman "подруга" can means "GF" or "friend".

  4. Between woman and woman "подруга" will be always means "friend".

  5. "Подруга" it's an undefined state. If you'd way

    • Она моя подруга (She is my )

Usually people would ask you:

  • Девушка? (A girlfriend?)

Cause your relationship isn't clear for them.

  1. If you want to introduce a woman as a friend, it'll be better to say "Друг" ("friend")

Она мой друг. Мы друзья. (She is my friend. We are friends)

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When the girl uses this word for another girl, it always means a female friend. Used by man, it could have one of two values. Sometimes it's something between. But it definitely describes not-so-romantic relationships.

0

Can be any meaning depending upon context: one can use it when talking to others about his girlfriend.

When used by males has a connotation of long term relationship or a connotation of age of the couple (say 30+).

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  • I would say the opposite, for me it is an indication of short term relationship. Such as the type people have at the resort. – Anixx Jan 27 '17 at 14:38

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