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.
brethren pl (plural only)
- (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.
- 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.