half brother

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Origin of half brother

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does half brother mean?

A half brother is a brother who is related to his sibling(s) through only one parent.

This typically means that they share only one biological parent (not both). For example, when a person’s parent has a son with another partner (who is not the person’s parent), the son is considered the person’s half brother.

The term half sister is used in the same way. Half-sibling is a gender-neutral way of saying the same thing.

In contrast, the words stepbrother, stepsister, and stepsibling refer to those who have a sibling relationship (often based on the remarriage of their parents to other partners) but who do not share a biological parent.

The word half in half brother and its related terms only refers to the biological relationship. Half brothers may have close relationships with their siblings, and many people simply call their half brother their brother.

Modifiers such as maternal and paternal are sometimes used to specify which biological parent the siblings have in common.

Example: Over the holidays, I got together with my maternal half brother and my paternal half sister and we had a great time.

Where does half brother come from?

The first records of the term half brother come from around the 1300s. The word half refers to the fact that a half brother shares one biological parent with a sibling, not two. Still, half brothers are considered blood relatives.

It’s not uncommon for people to have a half-sibling. This always involves one’s parent having a child with another partner. Circumstances vary, but such situations often involve the death of a parent, a separation, or a divorce.

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How is half brother used in real life?

People use terms like half brother and half sister to specify how siblings are related. A lot of people simply call their half brother their brother.


Try using half brother!

True or False? 

If a person’s mother and father got divorced and each had a son with another spouse, both of the sons would be considered this person’s half brothers.

How to use half brother in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for half brother


the son of either of one's parents by another partner
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