See also: Sister

English edit

Etymology edit

PIE word

From Middle English sister, suster, from Old English swustor, sweoster, sweostor (sister, nun); from Proto-Germanic *swestēr (sister), from Proto-Indo-European *swésōr (sister).

Cognate with Scots sister, syster (sister), West Frisian sus, suster (sister), Dutch zuster (sister), German Schwester (sister), Norwegian Bokmål søster (sister), Norwegian Nynorsk and Swedish syster (sister), Icelandic systir (sister), Gothic 𐍃𐍅𐌹𐍃𐍄𐌰𐍂 (swistar, sister), Latin soror (sister), Russian сестра́ (sestrá, sister), Lithuanian sesuo (sister), Albanian vajzë (girl, maiden), Sanskrit स्वसृ (svásṛ, sister), Persianخواهر(xâhar, sister).

In standard English, the form with i is due to contamination with Old Norse systir (sister).

The plural sistren is from Middle English sistren, a variant plural of sister, suster (sister); compare brethren.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

sister (plural sisters or (archaic in most senses) sistren)

  1. A daughter of the same parents as another person; a female sibling.
    Synonym: (slang) sis
    Antonym: brother
    Hypernym: sibling
    My sister is always driving me crazy.
  2. A female member of a religious order; especially one devoted to more active service; (informal) a nun.
    Synonym: nun
    Coordinate terms: brother, friar, frater
    Michelle left behind her bank job and became a sister at the local convent.
  3. Any butterfly in the genus Adelpha, so named for the resemblance of the dark-colored wings to the black habit traditionally worn by nuns.
  4. (Britain) A senior or supervisory nurse, often in a hospital.
    Synonym: charge nurse
  5. Any woman or girl with whom a bond is felt through the same biological sex, gender or common membership in a community, race, profession, religion, organization, or ism.
    Connie was very close to her friend Judy and considered her to be her sister.
    • 1985, “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves”, in Who’s Zoomin' Who?, performed by Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin:
      Sisters are doing it for themselves / Standing on their own two feet
  6. (African-American Vernacular, slang, sometimes capitalized) A black woman.
    • 2006, Noire [pseudonym], Thug-A-Licious: An Urban Erotic Tale, New York, N.Y.: One World, Ballantine Books, →ISBN, page 169:
      A fly sister rolled in with a suitcase full of hip-hop novels called The Glamorous Life, and an African brother with long dreads wanted to sell them some incense and some fake Jacob watches.
    • 2009, Rajen Persaud, Why Black Men Love White Women, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 171:
      The short “naps” of the average Sister do not sway in the wind as that of a blonde.
    • 2014, J. L. King, Full Circle: Loving. Living. Life. After The Down Low:
      And now, social media has made it worse. From Facebook to Twitter, I get all kinds of invitations. Recently a sister inboxed me on Facebook and told me that she knew for a fact that I wanted her and she wanted me.
  7. (informal) A form of address to a woman.
    Synonyms: darling, dear, love, (US) lady, miss, (northern UK) pet
    What’s up, sister?
  8. A woman, in certain religious, labour or socialist circles; also as a form of address.
    Thank you, sister. I would like to thank the sister who just spoke.
  9. (attributively) An entity that has a special or affectionate, non-hierarchical relationship with another.
    Synonyms: affiliate, affiliated
    sister publication
    sister city
    sister projects
  10. (computing theory) A node in a data structure that shares its parent with another node.
  11. (usually attributively) Something in the same class.
    sister ships
    sister facility
    • 2000, Dennis W. Stevenson, Jerrold I. Davis, John V. Freudenstein, Christopher R. Hardy, Mark P. Simmons, Chelsea D. Specht, “A phylogenetic analysis of the monocotyledons based on morphological and molecular character sets, with comments on the placement of Acorus and Hydatellaceae”, in Karen L[ouise] Wilson, David A. Morrison, editors, Monocots: Systematics and Evolution, Collingwood, Vic.: CSIRO Publishing, →ISBN, page 21, column 1:
      Within the ABCZ clade, Arecanae are sister of a group that includes all of the other taxa, and the latter fall into two major clades.
    • 2006, Linguistics, number 401, page 11:
      Karimi (1999) and Cheng et al. (1997), among others, on the other hand, assume that specific objects are base-generated at SpecVP, whereas nonspecific objects are sister of V.
    • 2016, Bruce M. Beehler, Thane K. Pratt, Birds of New Guinea: Distribution, Taxonomy, and Systematics, Princeton, N.J., Woodstock, Oxon: Princeton University Press, →ISBN, page 220:
      The bee-eaters are sister to a clade that includes the rollers, ground-rollers, todies, motmots, and kingfishers (Cracraft 2013).

Usage notes edit

  • In Roman Catholicism, a distinction is often drawn (especially by members of female religious orders) between nuns and sisters, the former being cloistered and devoted primarily to prayer, the latter being more active, doing work such as operating hospitals, caring for the poor, or teaching.
  • The plural sistren is no longer commonly used for biological sisters in contemporary English (although it was in the past) but may be found in some religious, feminist, or poetic usage.

Coordinate terms edit

Derived terms edit

Related terms edit

Descendants edit

  • Gulf Arabic: ⁧سِسْتَر(sistar, female nurse)
  • Japanese: シスター (shisutā)
  • Korean: 시스터 (siseuteo)

Translations edit

Verb edit

sister (third-person singular simple present sisters, present participle sistering, simple past and past participle sistered)

  1. (transitive, construction) To strengthen (a supporting beam) by fastening a second beam alongside it.
    I’m trying to correct my sagging floor by sistering the joists.
  2. (obsolete, transitive) To be sister to; to resemble closely.

Translations edit

Further reading edit

Anagrams edit

Middle English edit

Noun edit


  1. Alternative form of suster

Scots edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English sister, syster, forms of suster influenced by Old Norse systir, from Old English sweostor, swustor, sweoster, from Proto-Germanic *swestēr, from Proto-Indo-European *swésōr.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

sister (plural sisteris)

  1. sister

Derived terms edit