[ sis-ter-lee ]
/ ˈsɪs tər li /
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of, like, or befitting a sister: sisterly affection.
in the manner of a sister; as a sister.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
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Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of sisterly

First recorded in 1560–70; sister + -ly


sis·ter·li·ness, nounun·sis·ter·ly, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does sisterly mean?

Sisterly is an adjective that most commonly means like a sister. It’s especially used in a positive way to describe someone as being loyal, supportive, and protective—like a good sister who loves and cares about you.

Describing someone as sisterly sometimes implies that they’re like an older sister who can give good advice.

Sisterly is most often used to describe sisters themselves and the sisterly things they do, but it can be applied to someone who’s not a sister, as in I don’t have a sister, but I always rely on Jane for sisterly support. 

Sisterly can also be used as an adverb meaning in the manner of a sister.

Sisterly is one of many similar terms based on family relations, including brotherly, motherly, fatherly, grandmotherly, and grandfatherly.

Example: I’m lucky that my sisters and I have always shared a sisterly affection—we all support each other.

Where does sisterly come from?

The first records of the word sisterly come from the 1500s. The suffix -ly is often used to form adverbs, but in the case of the adjective sisterly it means “like” (i.e., like a sister).

The common meaning of sisterly is based not on any sister but on a good sister, one who is supportive and loyal. The phrase sisterly advice typically refers to advice that comes from experience and is intended to help you be the best you can be. Such advice can come from your actual sister or from a person who’s like a sister to you.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to sisterly?

  • sisterliness (noun)
  • unsisterly (adjective)

What are some synonyms for sisterly?

  • sororal
  • sororally (when sisterly is used as an adverb)

What are some words that share a root or word element with sisterly


What are some words that often get used in discussing sisterly?

How is sisterly used in real life?

Sisterly is usually used in a positive way to describe a woman or something she does as being like a good sister. It can be applied to sisters or people who are not sisters.


Try using sisterly!

Which of the following actions could be described as sisterly?

A. giving you good advice
B. supporting you
C. cheering you on
D. all of the above

How to use sisterly in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sisterly

/ (ˈsɪstəlɪ) /

of, resembling, or suitable to a sister, esp in showing kindness and affection

Derived forms of sisterly

sisterliness, noun
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