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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 (plural ending). Compare German Brüder (brothers, brethren). More at brother. The vowel change (from o to e) is called umlaut.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbɹɛðɹən/
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  1. (archaic) plural of brother
  2. (poetic) kinsmen

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.

Coordinate terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. 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]