brother

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See also: Brother and broþer

English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

PIE word
*bʰréh₂tēr

Inherited from Middle English brother, from Old English brōþor, from Proto-West Germanic *brōþer, from Proto-Germanic *brōþēr, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰréh₂tēr. Doublet of frater, friar, and pal.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

brother (plural brothers or (archaic in most senses) brethren)

  1. Son of the same parents as another person.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter X, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 4293071:
      It was a joy to snatch some brief respite, and find himself in the rectory drawing–room. Listening here was as pleasant as talking; just to watch was pleasant. The young priests who lived here wore cassocks and birettas; their faces were fine and mild, yet really strong, like the rector's face; and in their intercourse with him and his wife they seemed to be brothers.
  2. A male having at least one parent in common with another (see half-brother, stepbrother).
  3. A male fellow member of a religious community, church, trades union etc.
    • 1975, New King James Version, Deuteronomy 23:19
      You shall not charge interest to your brother—interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest.
    Thank you, brother.
    I would like to thank the brother who just spoke.
  4. (informal, dated) A form of address to a man.
    Listen, brother, I don't know what you want, but I'm not interested.
  5. (African-American Vernacular) A black male.
    • 1991 January, SPIN, vol. 6, no. 10, page 58:
      SPIN: Aren't you both as popular with white people as black people?
      L.L.: Oh, no question. But I've always said, that's why when people say, "L.L., hey, like, on the last album, you sold out," I say, "Yo, can I ask you a question, Mike Tyson sell out?" "No, he's a brother." I say, he's a cross-over artist. He went pop. You know what I'm saying? I mean, the rap audience [...] they have to understand that their music is for all people. Me personally, I don't think it's about being black or white, []
    • 2013, Gwyneth Bolton, Ready for Love:
      But damn if they knew when to just leave a brother alone and let him sulk in silence.
  6. Somebody, usually male, connected by a common cause, situation, or affection.
    • 1963, Martin Luther King Jr.
      The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.
    • 2016, William Burkholder, The City of My Brothers:
      O, then! To ride upon such glories, Till my time comes nigh, And commune in the city of peaceful slumbers Among my brothers of wind-blown rye.
  7. Someone who is a peer, whether male or female.
  8. (poetic) Someone who is a kinsman or shares the same patriarch.
    • 1995, Theophus H. Smith, Conjuring Culture, page 89:
      The eighteenth century text, with its antislavery message and its Adamic figuration, calls implicily for the reconciliation of all peoples as "brothers" (not the reprehensible brothers of Joseph but the cocreated brothers of Adam).
    • 1908 June, Grace Kellogg, “A Keeper of the Door”, in National Magazine, volume 28, page 280:
      Oh, my Brothers, five nights ago many of our braves were out upon the buffalo grounds.
    • 2010, Justin B. Richland, ‎Sarah Deer, Introduction to Tribal Legal Studies, page 193:
      In the case of the boy, a certain amount of instruction comes from the male members of the mother's clan, such as how to go after game, how to handle horses, how to dress, how to conduct yourself and what to seek in life. They also teach the boy how to treat domestic animals. Even pets understand kindness, and the clan brothers use that as an example.
    • 2020, Xiao Xiao Ma Jia Hao, Three Kingdoms: Super Hegemon:
      The carriage that the brothers of the Kai clan rode on had travelled a lot these past few days, and the horses that pulled the carriage were exhausted.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The plural “brethren” (cf. “sistren”, “sistern”) is not used for biological brothers in contemporary English (although it was in older usage). It still finds use, however, in the meaning of “members of a religious order”. It is also sometimes used in other figurative senses, e.g. “adherents of the same religion”, “countrymen”, and the like.

Coordinate terms[edit]

  • (with regards to gender): sister

Hypernyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

(Abbreviations): bro, brah, bra, bruh, bruv, bruvver

Compound words and expressions

Related terms[edit]

Descendants[edit]

Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

brother (third-person singular simple present brothers, present participle brothering, simple past and past participle brothered)

  1. (transitive) To treat as a brother.
    • 1819, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe:
      Seest thou not we are overreached, and that our proposed mode of communicating with our friends without has been disconcerted by this same motley gentleman thou art so fond to brother?

Translations[edit]

Interjection[edit]

brother

  1. Expressing exasperation.
    We're being forced to work overtime? Oh, brother!

Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old English brōþor, from Proto-West Germanic *brōþer, from Proto-Germanic *brōþēr, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰréh₂tēr. Doublet of frere.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

brother (plural brether or bretheren or brotheren or (rare) brothers, genitive brother or brothers)

  1. A brother or brother-in-law; a male sibling.
    • c. 1200, Ormin, “Dedication”, in Ormulum, lines 1-4:
      Nu bꝛoþerr Wallterr bꝛoþerr min / Affterr þe flæſheſſ kinde / ⁊ broþerr min i Criſſtendom / Þurrh fulluhht ⁊ þurrh trowwþe []
      Now, brother Walter, my brother / by way of blood relation / and my brother in Christendom / through baptising and through faith []
  2. A (Christian) man (i.e. as a "brother in life/brother in Christ").
    • c. 1395, John Wycliffe, John Purvey [et al.], transl., Bible (Wycliffite Bible (later version), MS Lich 10.)‎[1], published c. 1410, Apocalips 1:9, page 117v, column 2; republished as Wycliffe's translation of the New Testament, Lichfield: Bill Endres, 2010:
      I ioon ȝoure bꝛoþer ⁊ partener in tribulacioun ⁊ kingdom ⁊ pacience in criſt iheſu .· was in an ile þat is clepid pathmos · foꝛ þe woꝛd of god · ⁊ foꝛ þe witneſſyng of iheſu
      I, John, your brother and partner in tribulation, the Kingdom, and endurance in Jesus Christ, was on an island that's called Patmos for the word of God and for the witnessing of Jesus.
  3. A blood brother; one in a mutual pact of loyalty between two.
  4. Another member of a religious community or order (when one is a member)
  5. Another member of a guild or craft association (when one is a member)
  6. A male individual who one has a close platonic relationship with.
  7. (rare) One of one's peers as a ruler; (another) ruler.
  8. (rare) A relative or family member who is a man.
  9. (rare, alchemy) Something similar to something else.

Related terms[edit]

Descendants[edit]

References[edit]


Old Frisian[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Proto-Germanic *brōþēr.

Noun[edit]

brōther m

  1. brother

Descendants[edit]


Portuguese[edit]

Noun[edit]

brother m (plural brothers)

  1. Alternative spelling of bróder