Etymology of the Word ‘Sister’
A sister is usually a young woman or boy who shares either one or both parents with another person, another sibling. Sometimes the word “sister” is also used in conjunction with “child”. The second level of sisterhood is a full sibling, which is also known as a full cousin. A half-sister is also a second level relative. Here are some examples of the kinds of sister relationships that you might come across.
A female sibling is usually younger than her brothers and does not have as many offspring as her brothers. It is rare for a female to bear children even if she does have one because it is not easy to conceive after the age of one. However, it may happen in certain circumstances. A female who has lost her parental rights may still be able to claim her sisterhood even though she has no children of her own. In this case, the female would be considered a full sister.
There is rarely a marriage between younger siblings. This usually happens when the younger siblings are born before or soon after the wedding of the older sister. In a few cases the younger siblings will get married much sooner than the older sister. But this is very rare.
If the parents of a female sibling wish to have another offspring, then they can do so with their other daughter. In fact, they can marry their daughters and then take their daughters’ daughters as their siblings. In the Chinese culture, an older sister never loses her parental rights to her younger sister. So long as their daughters stay faithful to their husbands, the daughters can be married to another person and have their older sister’s children alongside their own.
In the middle English period, we have sister manor, which referred to female serfs in the middle ages. Middle English word became sister (and to which the spelling has since been changed to suster) in the 14th century. This was influenced by the French word’suet’. The word became more common as it came into contact with the German language.
This etymology provides little insight into why we use the word’sister’. The etymology of the word suster is unknown, but most likely comes from Latin – ‘of the sister’. It may be related to the preposition su (from su-ness) or sustre (of sustenance). We also have sister verb in compounds such as ‘to be a sister to someone’, ‘be a sister to understand’ and ‘let’s be a sister someday’. It also comes from Latin -‘sleep’ and ‘let us sleep’.