What is a Brother?


A brother is a male sibling, male relative, or a male cousin. The word brother itself comes from Old English broder. Similarly, the Spanish hermano is derived from Latin germanus, a nod to the language’s Germanic heritage. However, the word was first used in Middle English, a linguistic quirk that would continue into the twentieth century.

The word is derived from a number of sources, including a few obscure and unreliable etymologies. Among them is a combination of Proto-Germanic *brothar, Proto-Germanic *bhrater, Old English bruder, and Gothic broder. Another source of the term’s origin is the Turkish birader, a nod to the country’s Persian ancestry. Other names of note include adphos and adelphos. Lastly, a handful of other words are known to be spawned from the aforementioned moniker.

Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics,” written in 350 B.C.E., is perhaps the most cited source of the word’s popularity. It is a long, but readable treatise that offers insight into the nature of a human relationship. In particular, it highlights the differences between male and female, as well as the differences in the way in which people relate to each other. To this day, the book is still a must-read, especially for men of a certain age.

One of the many uses of the word is its usage as a noun, as in “my brother is a big jerk”. On the flip side, a brother can be a source of both comfort and dissent. As such, the best of both worlds can be achieved. But it isn’t always smooth sailing. Sometimes, male bonding turns into male stomping.

Using the word “bro” to refer to a man-to-man conversation may be a no-no. But, using it to refer to a female relative, such as a daughter or sister, is not only unseemly, but it is also a disservice to one’s gender. Likewise, if a woman’s husband is a man, the relationship is essentially one-sided. So, when using the word in this context, it is important to use a more balanced phrasing, such as referring to a female mate as a woman. And while it may be impossible to have a narcissistic, ego-driven brother, it is possible to have a more wholesome relationship with a brother of the same gender. Despite the pitfalls of such a relationship, the resulting magic is worth the effort. Hence, a little wiggle room can go a long way.