brethren Unabridged


[bruhth-er or for 9, bruhth-ur]
noun, plural brothers (Archaic) brethren.
a male offspring having both parents in common with another offspring; a male sibling.
Also called half brother. a male offspring having only one parent in common with another offspring.
a stepbrother.
a male numbered among the same kinship group, nationality, race, profession, etc., as another; an associate; a fellow member, fellow countryman, fellow man, etc.: a fraternity brother.
(often initial capital letter) a male numbered among the lay members of a religious organization that has a priesthood.
a man who devotes himself to the duties of a religious order without taking holy orders, or while preparing for holy orders.
brothers, all members of a particular race, or of the human race in general: All men are brothers.
Slang. fellow; buddy: Brother, can you spare a dime?
Informal. a black man; soul brother.
Slang. (used to express disappointment, disgust, or surprise).

before 1000; Middle English; Old English brōthor; cognate with Dutch broeder, German Bruder, Old Norse brōthir, Gothic brothar, Sanskrit bhrātṛ, Greek phrā́tēr, Latin frāter, Old Irish bráthair, OCS bratrŭ

brotherless, adjective
brotherlike, adjective

1. Brothers, brethren are plurals of brother. Brothers are kinsmen, sons of the same parents: My mother lives with my brothers. Brethren now archaic in the foregoing sense, is used of male members of a congregation or of a fraternal organization: The brethren will meet at the church. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
brethren (ˈbrɛðrɪn)
pl n
1.  archaic a plural of brother
2.  fellow members of a religion, sect, society, etc

brother (ˈbrʌðə)
n , pl (archaic except when referring to fellow members of a religion, sect, society, etc) brothers, brethren
1.  a male person having the same parents as another person
2.  half-brother short for stepbrother
3.  a.  a male person belonging to the same group, profession, nationality, trade union, etc, as another or others; fellow member
 b.  (as modifier): brother workers
4.  comrade; friend: used as a form of address
5.  Christianity Related: fraternal
 a.  a member of a male religious order who undertakes work for the order without actually being in holy orders
 b.  a lay member of a male religious order
6.  slang an exclamation of amazement, disgust, surprise, disappointment, etc
Related: fraternal
[Old English brōthor; related to Old Norse brōthir, Old High German bruoder, Latin frāter, Greek phratēr, Sanskrit bhrātar]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. broþor, from P.Gmc. *brothar (cf. O.N. broðir, Dan. broder, O.Fris. brother, Du. broeder, Ger. Bruder, Goth. bróþar), from PIE base *bhrater (cf. Skt. bhrátár-, O.Pers. brata, Gk. phratér, L. frater, O.Ir. brathir, Welsh brawd, Lith. broterelis, O.Prus.
brati, O.C.S. bratru, Czech brotr "brother"). As a familiar term of address from one man to another, it is attested from 1912 in U.S. slang; the specific use among blacks is recorded from 1973.

alternative plural of brother (q.v.); predominant c.1200-1600s, but surviving only in religious usage.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Brother definition

(1.) In the natural and common sense (Matt. 1:2; Luke 3:1, 19). (2.) A near relation, a cousin (Gen. 13:8; 14:16; Matt. 12:46; John 7:3; Acts 1:14; Gal. 1:19). (3.) Simply a fellow-countryman (Matt. 5:47; Acts 3:22; Heb. 7:5). (4.) A disciple or follower (Matt. 25:40; Heb. 2:11, 12). (5.) One of the same faith (Amos 1:9; Acts 9:30; 11:29; 1 Cor. 5:11); whence the early disciples of our Lord were known to each other as brethren. (6.) A colleague in office (Ezra 3:2; 1 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1). (7.) A fellow-man (Gen. 9:5; 19:7; Matt. 5:22, 23, 24; 7:5; Heb. 2:17). (8.) One beloved or closely united with another in affection (2 Sam. 1:26; Acts 6:3; 1 Thess. 5:1). Brethren of Jesus (Matt. 1:25; 12:46, 50: Mark 3:31, 32; Gal. 1:19; 1 Cor. 9:5, etc.) were probably the younger children of Joseph and Mary. Some have supposed that they may have been the children of Joseph by a former marriage, and others that they were the children of Mary, the Virgin's sister, and wife of Cleophas. The first interpretation, however, is the most natural.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Britannica


group of Protestant churches that trace their origin to Schwarzenau, Hesse, where in 1708 a group of seven persons under the leadership of Alexander Mack (1679-1735) formed a brotherhood dedicated to following the commandments of Jesus Christ. The brotherhood was shaped by three influences-the Protestant faith in which its organizers had been raised, the Pietist reform movement, and Anabaptist teachings from the 16th century.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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