One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1United States Regional Originally United States regional (in African-American usage), in later use chiefly Jamaican. Treated as plural. Brethren, brothers; (in later use) especially friends, companions, close associates, especially when considered as fellow members of a particular social or cultural group.
2slang Slang (originally and chiefly Jamaican). With singular concord. A close (male) friend or associate.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in Tickler. Representing an African-American or Caribbean pronunciation of brethren, variant plural form of brother.
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