breth·​ren | \ ˈbret͟h-rən How to pronounce brethren (audio) ; ˈbre-t͟hə-, -t͟hərn \

Definition of brethren

 (Entry 1 of 2)

plural of brother

used chiefly in formal or solemn address or in referring to the members of a profession, society, or religious denominationour church brethren


plural noun

Definition of Brethren (Entry 2 of 2)

religion : members of various sects originating chiefly in 18th century German Pietism especially : dunkers

First Known Use of brethren

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Plural noun

1797, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of brethren was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Brethren.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

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How to pronounce Brethren (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of brethren

used especially to begin to talk in a formal way to a group of people or to refer to the members of a particular group


breth·​ren | \ ˈbret͟h-rən How to pronounce brethren (audio) \

Kids Definition of brethren

plural of brother

Hint: Brethren is used chiefly in formal situations.

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More from Merriam-Webster on brethren

Spanish Central: Translation of brethren

Nglish: Translation of brethren for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of brethren for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about brethren

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