Webster 1913 Edition



imp. & p. p.
To make a brother of; to call or treat as a brother; to admit to a brotherhood.
Sir W. Scott.

Webster 1828 Edition



brothers or brethren. [L. frater.]
A human male born of the same father and mother. A male by one of the parents only is called a half-brother, or brother of the half blood.
Any one closely united; an associate; as a band of brothers.
One that resembles another in manners.
He that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster. Proverbs 18.
In scripture, the term brother is applied to a kinsman by blood more remote that a son of the same parents; as in the case of Abraham and Lot, Jacob and Laban. Persons of the same profession call each other brother, as judges, clergymen, professors of religion, members of societies united in a common cause, monks and the like.
Kings give to each other the title of brother.address their congregations by the title of brethren. In a more general sense, brother or brethren is used for man in general; all men being children of the same primitive ancestors, and forming one race of beings.
Brother-german is a brother by the father's and mother's side, in contradistinction to a uterine brother, or by the mother only.

Definition 2023



See also: brother and broþer



Brother (plural Brothers)

  1. Title of respect for an adult male member of a religious or fraternal order.
    At the monastery, Brother Stephen supervises the kitchen.
  2. Formal title for any male member of a religious or fraternal organization.
    Please welcome Brother Smith as he moves from his former congregation to his new congregation.
  3. An informal title used as part of another moniker:
    The Native American had a kinship with nature, even referring to Mother Earth and Brother Bear.
    Jacob was a Brother Grimm, and Wilhelm was a Brother Grimm.

Compare Mister

See also




See also: Brother and broþer


Alternative forms


brother (plural brothers or brethren)

  1. Son of the same parents as another person.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 10, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      It was a joy to snatch some brief respite, and find himself in the rectory drawing–room. Listening here was as pleasant as talking; just to watch was pleasant. The young priests who lived here wore cassocks and birettas; their faces were fine and mild, yet really strong, like the rector's face; and in their intercourse with him and his wife they seemed to be brothers.
  2. A male having at least one parent in common with another (see half-brother, stepbrother).
  3. A male fellow member of a religious community, church, trades union etc.
    • The Bible, Deuteronomy 23:19 (NKJV)
      You shall not charge interest to your brother—interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest.
    Thank you, brother. I would like to thank the brother who just spoke.
  4. (African American Vernacular) A black male.
    • 2013, Gwyneth Bolton, Ready for Love
      But damn if they knew when to just leave a brother alone and let him sulk in silence.
  5. Someone who is a peer, whether male or female.

Usage notes

The plural “brethren” is not used for biological brothers in contemporary English (although it was in older usage). It is, however, still very common when meaning “members of a religious order”. It is also sometimes used in other figurative senses, e.g. “adherents of the same religion”, “countrymen”, and the like.

Coordinate terms

  • (with regards to gender): sister


Derived terms

Related terms



  • Islander Creole English: broda
  • Kabuverdianu: bróda
  • Krio: brohda
  • Nicaraguan Creole: brada
  • Nigerian Pidgin: broda


brother (third-person singular simple present brothers, present participle brothering, simple past and past participle brothered)

  1. (transitive) To treat as a brother.
    • 1819, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe
    • Seest thou not we are overreached, and that our proposed mode of communicating with our friends without has been disconcerted by this same motley gentleman thou art so fond to brother?




  1. Expressing exasperation.
    We're being forced to work overtime? Oh, brother!


Most common English words before 1923: deep · meet · interest · #473: brother · I've · longer · paid

Middle English


From Old English brōþor.


brother (plural brothers)

  1. brother




brother m (plural brothers)

  1. Alternative spelling of bróder