brethren[bret̸h′rən; often, -ərn]
- The definition of brethren are members of a group, especially a male religious order.
A group of Christian men who are all part of the same religious order are an example of brethren.
Brethren praying together.
Origin of brethrenMiddle English bretheren, plural : see brother
- A plural of brother.
- Brethren Any of various Protestant denominations, especially those arising out of the Anabaptist and Pietist movements in Central Europe between the 15th and 18th centuries.
- (archaic) plural form of brother
- (figuratively) the body of members, especially of a fraternal, religious or military order
The plural "brethren" is generally used for members of an organization, especially a religious body, whereas the plural "brothers" is used in the familial sense as well as for larger groups.
From Early Modern English brethren (plural of brother), from Middle English brethere, brether + -en (plural ending), alteration, due to Old English brēþer (dative singular), of Old English brōþor, brōþru (“brothers, brethren”). Compare German Brüder (“brothers, brethren”). More at brother. The vowel change from o to e is called umlaut.
Variant of brother
nounpl. brothers, brethren
- a man or boy as he is related to the other children of his parents: sometimes also used of animals
- a man or boy related to one by having a parent in common; half brother
- a stepbrother
- a foster brother
- a close male friend who is like a brother
- a fellow human being
- a male fellow member of the same race, church, profession, organization, etc.: fraternity brother, soul brother
- a lay member of a men's religious order
- Informal any man: often used as a familiar term of address
Origin of brotherMiddle English ; from Old English brothor ; from Indo-European base an unverified form bhrāter from source Gothic brothar, Classical Latin frater, Old Irish brāthir, Sanskrit bhrātar, Classical Greek phratēr