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late 13c., from Old French frere "brother, friar" (9c.), originally the mendicant orders (Franciscans, Augustines, Dominicans, Carmelites), who reached England early 13c., from Latin frater "brother" (see brother).
(from Latin frater through French frere, "brother"), one belonging to a Roman Catholic religious order of mendicants. Formerly, friar was the title given to individual members of these orders, as Friar Laurence (in Romeo and Juliet), but this is no longer common. The 10 mendicant orders are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians (Augustian Hermits), Carmelites, Trinitarians, Mercedarians, Servites, Minims, Hospitallers of St. John of God, and the Teutonic Order (the Austrian branch)