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fraternity

[fruh-tur-ni-tee]
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noun, plural fra·ter·ni·ties.
  1. a local or national organization of male students, primarily for social purposes, usually with secret initiation and rites and a name composed of two or three Greek letters.
  2. a group of persons associated by or as if by ties of brotherhood.
  3. any group or class of persons having common purposes, interests, etc.: the medical fraternity.
  4. an organization of laymen for religious or charitable purposes; sodality.
  5. the quality of being brotherly; brotherhood: liberty, equality, and fraternity.
  6. the relation of a brother or between brothers.
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Origin of fraternity

1300–50; Middle English fraternite < Latin frāternitās. See fraternal, -ity
Related formsin·ter·fra·ter·ni·ty, adjectivenon·fra·ter·ni·ty, noun, plural non·fra·ter·ni·ties.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for fraternity

fraternity

noun plural -ties
  1. a body of people united in interests, aims, etcthe teaching fraternity Gender-neutral form: community
  2. brotherhood
  3. US and Canadian a secret society joined by male students, usually functioning as a social club
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for fraternity

n.

early 14c., "body of men associated by common interest," from Old French fraternité (12c.), from Latin fraternitatem (nominative fraternitas) "brotherhood," from fraternus "brotherly," from frater "brother," from PIE *bhrater (see brother). Meaning "state or condition of being as brothers" is from late 15c. College Greek-letter organization sense is from 1777, first in reference to Phi Beta Kappa.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper