brethren

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

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 umlaut.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

brethren

  1. (archaic) plural form 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.

Translations[edit]

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See also[edit]