Siegfried Kracauer's essays Über die Freundschaft (‘On Friendship’) and Gedanken über Freundschaft (‘Thoughts on Friendship’) exemplify a conceptually differentiating approach to friendship. This article aims at highlighting the explanatory yield of such an approach in contrast to a prevalent conflation of personal relationship types in research today. Kracauer's work is a call from the past to take seriously the semantic nuances of friendship in the present in order to better reflect lived experience in a sociologically plausible manner. I begin by identifying the practice of semantic conflation and its methodological problems. A brief description of the publication background of the friendship essays and their embeddedness in Kracauer's anxiety about the modern subject precedes a selective exposition. To conclude, I offer a summary reflection on the contemporary significance of Kracauer's approach with reference to social media friends and political friendship.