n. pl. broth·ers
1. A male having the same parents as another or one parent in common with another.
2. pl. also breth·ren (brĕthrən) One who shares a common ancestry, allegiance, character, or purpose with another or others, especially:
a. A kinsman.
b. A fellow man.
c. A fellow member, as of a fraternity, trade union, or panel of judges on a court.
d. A close male friend; a comrade.
e. A fellow African-American man or boy.
3. pl. also brethren Something, such as a corporation or institution, that is regarded as a member of a class: "A station that ... relies on corporate contributions or advertising to survive runs the risk of becoming virtually indistinguishable from its commercial brethren" (W. John Moore).
a. Abbr. Br. or Bro. A lay member of a religious order of men.
b. pl. also brethren A fellow member of the Christian church.
[Middle English, from Old English brōthor; see bhrāter- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus