plural Brers
African American English
: brother, bruh
used as a title before a man's first name
Usage of Brer and Bruh

The words Brer and bruh both originated as written forms of a spoken alteration of the word brother that is used especially in southern African American English. Brer appears most commonly today in written versions of African American folktales (such as those popularized by Joel Chandler Harris), where it occurs as a capitalized title before a male character's first name.

"These are traditional African American folktales crossed with Cherokee and Creek folktales," says [Honorée Fanonne] Jeffers of The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus—a compilation of children's stories that detail the adventures of characters like Brer Rabbit and Brer Wolf. Tembe Denton-Hurst
… folktales with African roots, introducing Brers Fox, Rabbit, Wolf, and Bear. Judy Freeman

The word bruh is also sometimes used in this way.

The little animals held a sit-down talk, and one by one and two by two and all by all, they decide to go see Bruh Bear and Bruh Rabbit. Virginia Hamilton

Brer now rarely appears outside of such tales, but bruh has a range of current uses, including as a familiar form of address.

… I told my friend Jason in a conversation a few days later, "people think this is the dream." We both laughed. He shook his head from side to side three times, his locs touching his ears and his shoulders. "It ain't the dream, bruh," I said. "It ain't the dream." Danté Stewart

Examples of Brer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Bugs Bunny cartoons and other stories like Brer Rabbit featuring clever, talking animals were originally inspired by African folktales first told by enslaved people. John Blake, CNN, 18 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Brer.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1878, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Brer was in 1878

Dictionary Entries Near Brer

Cite this Entry

“Brer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

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