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See also: Brother and broþer



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Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English brother, from Old English brōþor, from Proto-Germanic *brōþēr (compare North Frisian Bröðer, West Frisian broer, Dutch broeder, German Bruder, Danish broder, Norwegian bror), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰréh₂tēr (compare Irish bráthair, Welsh brawd, Latin frāter, Ancient Greek φράτηρ (phrátēr), Tocharian A pracar, Tocharian B procer, Russian брат (brat), Lithuanian brolis, Persian برادر (barādar), Sanskrit भ्रातृ (bhrātṛ)).



brother (plural brothers or brethren)

  1. Son of the same parents as another person.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 10, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      It was a joy to snatch some brief respite, and find himself in the rectory drawing–room. Listening here was as pleasant as talking; just to watch was pleasant. The young priests who lived here wore cassocks and birettas; their faces were fine and mild, yet really strong, like the rector's face; and in their intercourse with him and his wife they seemed to be brothers.
  2. A male having at least one parent in common with another (see half-brother, stepbrother).
  3. A male fellow member of a religious community, church, trades union etc.
    • The Bible, Deuteronomy 23:19 (NKJV)
      You shall not charge interest to your brother—interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest.
    Thank you, brother.
    I would like to thank the brother who just spoke.
  4. (African American Vernacular) A black male.
    • 2013, Gwyneth Bolton, Ready for Love
      But damn if they knew when to just leave a brother alone and let him sulk in silence.
  5. Somebody, usually male, connected by a common cause or situation.
    • 1963, Martin Luther King Jr.
      The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.
  6. Someone who is a peer, whether male or female.

Usage notesEdit

The plural “brethren” is not used for biological brothers in contemporary English (although it was in older usage). It is, however, still very common when meaning “members of a religious order”. It is also sometimes used in other figurative senses, e.g. “adherents of the same religion”, “countrymen”, and the like.

Coordinate termsEdit

  • (with regards to gender): sister


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.



brother (third-person singular simple present brothers, present participle brothering, simple past and past participle brothered)

  1. (transitive) To treat as a brother.
    • 1819, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe
    • Seest thou not we are overreached, and that our proposed mode of communicating with our friends without has been disconcerted by this same motley gentleman thou art so fond to brother?




  1. Expressing exasperation.
    We're being forced to work overtime? Oh, brother!

Middle EnglishEdit


From Old English brōþor.



brother (plural brothers or bretheren)

  1. brother




brother m (plural brothers)

  1. Alternative spelling of bróder