Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Brethren


Alternative forms[edit]


From Early Modern English brethren, plural of brother, from Middle English brethren, from Middle English brethere, brether + -en (plural ending). Ultimately from Old English brōþor, brōþru (brothers, brethren), influenced by Old English brēþer, dative singular of brōþor (brother). Equivalent to brother +‎ -en pl. Compare German Brüder (brothers, brethren). More at brother. The vowel change (from o to e) is called umlaut.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbɹɛðɹən/
  • (file)



  1. (archaic) plural of brother

Usage notes[edit]

The plural brethren is generally used for members of an organization, especially a religious body, whereas the plural brothers is used in the familial sense as well as for larger groups.

Derived terms[edit]


brethren pl (plural only)

  1. (figuratively) The body of members, especially of a fraternal, religious or military order.


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.


brethren (comparative more brethren, superlative most brethren)

  1. Of or akin to; related; like
    • 2009, Seth Shostak, Confessions of an Alien Hunter:
      The principle still sounds good, but our astronomical knowledge is limited, and we haven't yet discovered any such brethren solar systems.

See also[edit]