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brethren

[breth -rin] /ˈbrɛð rɪn/
plural noun
1.
fellow members.
2.
Archaic. brothers.
Synonyms
1, 2. See brother.

brother

[bruhth -er or for 9, bruhth -ur] /ˈbrʌð ər or for 9, ˈbrʌðˈɜr/
noun, plural brothers (Archaic) brethren.
1.
a male offspring having both parents in common with another offspring; a male sibling.
2.
Also called half brother. a male offspring having only one parent in common with another offspring.
3.
a stepbrother.
4.
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.
5.
Ecclesiastical.
  1. (often initial capital letter) a male numbered among the lay members of a religious organization that has a priesthood.
  2. a man who devotes himself to the duties of a religious order without taking holy orders, or while preparing for holy orders.
6.
brothers, all members of a particular race, or of the human race in general:
All men are brothers.
7.
Slang. fellow; buddy:
Brother, can you spare a dime?
8.
Informal. a black man; soul brother.
interjection
9.
Slang. (used to express disappointment, disgust, or surprise).
Origin
1000
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
Related forms
brotherless, adjective
brotherlike, adjective
Synonyms
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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for brethren

brethren

/ˈbrɛðrɪn/
plural noun
1.
(archaic) a plural of brother
2.
fellow members of a religion, sect, society, etc

brother

/ˈbrʌðə/
noun (pl) brothers, (archaic except when referring to fellow members of a religion, sect, society, etc) brethren
1.
a male person having the same parents as another person
2.
3.
  1. a male person belonging to the same group, profession, nationality, trade union, etc, as another or others; fellow member
  2. (as modifier): brother workers
4.
comrade; friend: used as a form of address
5.
(Christianity)
  1. a member of a male religious order who undertakes work for the order without actually being in holy orders
  2. a lay member of a male religious order
related adjective fraternal
interjection
6.
(slang) an exclamation of amazement, disgust, surprise, disappointment, etc
Word Origin
Old English brōthor; related to Old Norse brōthir, Old High German bruoder, Latin frāter, Greek phratēr, Sanskrit bhrātar
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for brethren
n.

alternative plural of brother (q.v.); predominant c.1200-1600s, but surviving now only in religious usage.

brother

n.

Old English broþor, from Proto-Germanic *brothar (cf. Old Norse broðir, Danish broder, Old Frisian brother, Dutch broeder, German Bruder, Gothic bróþar), from PIE root *bhrater (cf. Sanskrit bhrátár-, Old Persian brata, Greek phratér, Latin frater, Old Irish brathir, Welsh brawd, Lithuanian broterelis, Old Prussian brati, Old Church Slavonic bratru, Czech bratr "brother").

A highly stable word across the Indo-European languages. In the few cases where other words provide the sense, it is where the cognate of brother had been applied widely to "member of a fraternity," or where there was need to distinguish "son of the same mother" and "son of the same father." E.g. Greek adelphos, probably originally an adjective with frater and meaning, specifically, "brother of the womb" or "brother by blood;" and Spanish hermano "brother," from Latin germanus "full 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for brethren

brother

interjection

An exclamation of surprise, amusement, vehemence, etc; boy, jeez, man: ''The lady was prepared to take it if it did.'' ''Brother!'' (1920s+)

noun
  1. A man; fellow; guy •Used in addressing strangers: I don't know you, brother, but you said a mouthful (1910+)
  2. A black person; blood •Common and significant fr 1960s: All you brothers here, and you white people too, got to take care of business (1920+ Black)
  3. A fellow professional; colleague: I'd like to ask Brother Donaldson something, if I may (mid1300s+)
Related Terms

soul brother


Brother

Related Terms

big brother


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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brethren in the Bible

(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 Article for brethren

Brethren

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.

Learn more about Brethren with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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13
14
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