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Alternative forms[edit]


Mitford Mathews suggested in 1951 that the term derived from brot (scrap(s), small amount(s)),[1] a northern England dialectal term ultimately derived from Old English brēotan,[2] but Frederic Cassidy notes that this has "no connection to the marketing context"[1] and Joey Lee Dillard finds the idea "unconvincing".[3] Cassidy mentions that the term might be related to Jamaican Creole braata (little extra given by a seller to a buyer), though he considers this "questionable" because "the stressed vowel is rather different [...] and the final -us of the American form would have to be accounted for"; the Jamaican term might derive from a Spanish cognate of Portuguese barato (favour).[1] An African origin has also been suggested, but not substantiated; The African Heritage of American English for example suggests derivation from an African word mbata meaning "something given on credit, without payment", but Kongo mbata in fact means "perquisite, commission, brokerage".[4]



brotus (plural brotuses)

  1. (dialectal, chiefly Southern US) Something added at no extra charge, such as the thirteenth item in a baker's dozen.


  • (something added at no extra charge): lagniappe


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 F. G. Cassidy, Etymology in Caribbean Creoles, in Focus on the Caribbean →ISBN, which quotes Mathew's Dictionary of Americanisms (1951)
  2. ^ The English Dialect Dictionary (1898)
  3. ^ Joey Lee Dillard, Toward a Social History of American English
  4. ^ W. Holman Bentley, Dictionary and Grammar of the Kongo Language (1887)