• Brethren

    Pronunciation

    • IPA: /ˈbrɛðrən/

    Origin

    From Early Modern English brethren (plural of brother.), from Middle English brethere, brether + -en, alteration, due to Old English brēþer, of Old English brōþor, brōþru ("brothers, brethren"). Compare German Brüder ("brothers, brethren"). More at brother. The vowel change from o to e is called Germanic umlaut.

    Noun

    plural

    1. (archaic) Plural of brother
    2. (figuratively) the body of members, especially of a fraternal, religious or military order

    Usage notes

    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.

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