brethren

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
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See also: Brethren

English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[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 in English rephonologization or cheshirization, but is more usual in German where it is called umlaut.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈbɹɛðɹən/
  • (file)

Noun[edit]

brethren

  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.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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.

Adjective[edit]

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]