Etymology
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brethren (n.)

alternative plural of brother (q.v.); predominant c. 1200-1600s, but surviving only in religious usage and not now used in reference to male children of the same parents. The title was used by primitive Christians (Acts xviii, etc.) and so was taken by various Protestant sects, such as the Dunkers.

updated on August 09, 2017

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Definitions of brethren from WordNet

brethren (n.)
(plural) the lay members of a male religious order;
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.