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Pal vs. Gal: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Updated on May 20, 2024
"Pal" refers to a friend, often male, while "gal" is an informal term for a woman or girl.

Key Differences

"Pal" is an informal term used to describe a friend or buddy, often implying a close or friendly relationship. It is commonly used to refer to male friends, though it can be gender-neutral. For example, someone might say, "He's my pal from college." On the other hand, "gal" is an informal term specifically used to refer to a woman or girl. It is often used in a casual or affectionate manner, and it typically highlights the gender of the person. For instance, someone might say, "She's a smart gal."
"Pal" carries a connotation of camaraderie and mutual support, often used in social contexts to denote a friendly association. This term is widely used in both casual and slightly more formal settings, showing versatility. In contrast, "gal" emphasizes femininity and is mostly used in informal speech. It is less common in formal contexts and can sometimes carry an old-fashioned or regional tone, particularly in American English.
"Pal" can be used as both a noun and a verb, as in "Let's pal around," indicating engaging in activities together as friends. This versatility adds to its widespread usage in various contexts. Whereas "gal" remains strictly a noun and is more limited in its application, often appearing in expressions like "gal pal" to describe a female friend, or in phrases that highlight gender-specific characteristics or roles.

Comparison Chart


Friend or buddy
Informal term for a woman

Gender Implication

Often male, but can be neutral
Specifically female

Usage Context

Casual to slightly formal
Mostly casual, sometimes regional

Part of Speech

Noun and verb


Friendly, informal
Informal, sometimes old-fashioned

Pal and Gal Definitions


A close friend.
He's my pal from high school.


Informal term for a girl or woman.
She's a hardworking gal.


Someone you trust.
You can always count on your pal.


Female friend (informal).
She's my gal pal.


To become friendly with.
They palled up during the trip.


Woman with specific traits.
She's a tough gal, always ready to help.


A friend; a chum.


A young woman.
That gal over there is my sister.


To associate as friends or chums. Often used with around.


A woman or girl.


(colloquial) A friend, buddy, mate, cobber; someone to hang around with.
Little Timmy's out playing with his pals.


The centimeter-gram-second unit of acceleration, equal to one centimeter per second per second, used especially in the measurement of gravity.


(colloquial) An informal term of address, often used ironically in a hostile way.
Don't you threaten me, pal – I'll report you to the police.


Abbreviation of gallon


(slang) Be friends with, hang around with.
John plans to pal around with Joe today.


(colloquial) A young woman.


A mate; a partner; esp., an accomplice or confederate.


A galileo unit of acceleration.


A close friend who accompanies his buddies in their activities


United States liquid unit equal to 4 quarts or 3.785 liters


Become friends; act friendly towards


A unit of gravitational acceleration equal to one centimeter per second per second (named after Galileo)


A companion.
My dog is my constant pal.


Alliterative term for girl (or woman)


An ally or supporter.
We were pals throughout the competition.


Term of endearment for a woman.
Hey, gal, how have you been?


Can "pal" refer to both genders?

Yes, "pal" can be used for both genders, though it often refers to males.

What context is "pal" typically used in?

It's used in friendly, informal, and sometimes slightly formal contexts.

What does "gal" mean?

"Gal" is an informal term for a woman or girl.

Can "gal" refer to a female friend?

Yes, it can, often in phrases like "gal pal."

Can "pal" be used as a verb?

Yes, e.g., "They palled around all day."

Does "gal" have any regional connotations?

Yes, it can sound old-fashioned or regional in American English.

Is "gal" considered modern or old-fashioned?

It can be seen as somewhat old-fashioned or regional.

Is "gal" used in formal language?

No, "gal" is typically used in casual or informal contexts.

What is the meaning of "pal"?

"Pal" means a friend or buddy.

Is "pal" more versatile than "gal"?

Yes, "pal" can be both a noun and a verb, while "gal" is strictly a noun.

Can "pal" be used in professional settings?

It can be, in informal professional settings.

Is "gal" ever used in professional contexts?

Rarely, due to its informal nature.

Does "gal" highlight any specific trait?

It often highlights the gender of the person being referred to.

Is "gal" an American term?

It is more common in American English.

Can both "pal" and "gal" be affectionate terms?

Yes, both can be used affectionately in informal contexts.

Is "pal" always friendly?

Generally, yes, it implies friendliness.

Is "pal" common in modern language?

Yes, it's still widely used today.

Can "pal" imply trust?

Yes, it often implies a trusting relationship.

Is "pal" used globally?

Yes, though usage can vary by region.

Does "gal" have any negative connotations?

Not typically, but context matters.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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