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See also: Brethren



From Early Modern English brethren (plural of brother), from Middle English brethere, brether + -en (plural ending), alteration, due to Old English brēþer (dative singular), of Old English brōþor, brōþru (brothers, brethren). Compare German Brüder (brothers, brethren). More at brother. The vowel change (from o to e) is called in English rephonologization or cheshirization, but is more usual in German where it is called umlaut.




  1. (archaic) plural of brother
  2. (figuratively) the body of members, especially of a fraternal, religious or military order

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.


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]