AskDefine | Define sister

Dictionary Definition



1 a female person who has the same parents as another person; "my sister married a musician" [syn: sis] [ant: brother]
2 (Roman Catholic Church) a title given to a nun (and used as a form of address); "the Sisters taught her to love God"
3 a female person who is a fellow member of a sorority or labor union or other group; "none of her sisters would betray her"
4 sometimes used as a term of address for attractive young women [syn: baby]

User Contributed Dictionary



From sweoster, from , from .
Germanic cognates: Old Frisian swester, Old Saxon swestar (Dutch zuster), Old High German swester (German Schwester), Gothic 𐍃𐍅𐌹𐍃𐍄𐌰𐍂.
Indo-European cognates: Latin soror, Old Irish siur (Welsh chwaer), Old Church Slavonic сестра (Russian сестра), Lithuanian sesuõ.


  • a UK /ˈsɪstə/, /"sIst@/
  • a US , /ˈsɪstɚ/, /"sIst@`/
  • Rhymes: -ɪstə(r)


  1. a daughter of the same parents as another person; a female sibling.
    My little sister is an annoying pest.
  2. a female member of a religious community; a nun.
  3. a senior or supervisory nurse, often in a hospital.
  4. any woman or girl with whom a bond is felt through common membership of a race, profession, religion or organization, such as feminism.
    Connie was very close to her friend Judy and considered her to be her sister.
  5. a black woman
  6. a form of address to a woman
    • What’s up, sister?
  7. In the context of "attributively": Of or relating to an entity that has a special or affectionate relationship with another
    sister publication
    sister city


Related terms


woman or girl having the same parents
a nun; a female member of a religious community
  • Afrikaans: suster
  • Armenian: քույր (k‘uyr)
  • Bosnian: sestra
  • Breton: c'hoar , seurez
  • Bulgarian: сестра
  • Catalan: germana,
  • Croatian: sestra
  • Danish: nonne
  • Dutch: zus, zuster, kloosterzuster, non
  • Esperanto: fratino, fratulino
  • Estonian: õde
  • Finnish: sisar
  • French: sœur, nonne, religieuse
  • German: Schwester ^
  • Greek: καλόγρια
  • Hebrew: אָחוֹת (akhót)
  • Hungarian: apáca, nővér
  • Indonesian: suster
  • Italian: sorella, suora
  • Japanese: 修道女 (しゅうどうじょ, shūdōjo); シスター (shisutā)
  • Korean: 수녀 (sunyeo)
  • Latvian: māsa
  • Maltese: soru
  • Polish: siostra
  • Portuguese: irmã, soror
  • Romanian: călugăriţă
  • Russian: сестра
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: сестра
    Roman: sestra
  • Slovak: sestra
  • Slovene: sestra
  • Spanish: hermana
  • Swedish: syster
  • Telugu: సహోదరి (sahOdari)
  • Turkish: rahibe
senior nurse
any woman or girl with whom a bond is felt
black woman
form of address to a woman
  • Kurdish:
    Sorani: خوشکه
attributively: of an entity that has a special relationship with another


  1. In the context of "transitive|construction": To strengthen (a supporting beam) by fastening a second beam alongside it.
    I’m trying to correct my sagging floor by sistering the joists.

Extensive Definition

A sibling is a brother or sister; that is, one who shares the same parents.
In most societies throughout the world, siblings usually grow up together and spend a good deal of their childhood with each other. This genetic and physical closeness may be marked by the development of strong emotional associations such as love and enmity. The sibling bond is often complicated and is influenced by factors such as parental treatment, birth order, personality, and people and experiences outside the family.

Types of siblings

Full sibling

A full sibling (full brother or full sister), is a sibling that shares both biological or adoptive parents.

Half sibling

A half sibling (half brother or half sister) is a sibling with one shared biological or adoptive parent. A half sibling that shares the same mother (but different fathers) is known as a uterine sibling, whereas one that shares the same father is known as an agnate sibling. In law, the term consanguine is used in place of agnate. Half siblings can have a wide variety of interpersonal relationships, from a bond as close as any full siblings, to total strangers. For half siblings in twins, see semi-identical twin.
At law (and especially inheritance law) half siblings were often accorded unequal treatment. Old English common law at one time incorporated inequalities into the laws of intestate succession, with half siblings taking only half as much property of their intestate siblings' estates as other siblings of full-blood. Unequal treatment of this type has been almost wholly abolished in England and throughout much of the United States.


A stepsibling (stepbrother or stepsister) is a sibling with whom an individual bears no blood or equivalent adoptive relation, and is related by the marriage or relationship of one parent of the individual to one parent of the sibling.
seealso stepfamily

Siblings through breast feeding

Milk brothers or sisters are children breastfed by a woman other than their biological mother, a practice known as wetnursing and once widespread in the developed world, as it still is in parts of the developing world.
In Islam those who are fed in this way become siblings to the biological children of their wetnurse, provided that they are less than two years old and have been breastfed five times or more by her. Islamic law (shariah) codifies the relationship between these people, and certain specified relatives, as rada; once they are adult, they are mahram, meaning that they are not allowed to marry each other, and the rules of modesty known as hijab are relaxed, as with other family members.

Irish twins

"Irish twins" is a slang term for siblings who are not actually twins, but rather, were born less than 12 months apart – possibly in the same calendar year and/or school year. It references those Irish Catholic families, on the perception that they have many children with little space between births. It is sometimes considered derogatory. Similarly, "Irish triplets" refers to three siblings born in two years.

Birth order

Birth order is a person's rank by age among his or her siblings. Typically, researchers classify siblings as “eldest”, “middle child”, and “youngest” or simply distinguish between “firstborn” and “later born” children.
Birth order is commonly believed in pop psychology and popular culture to have a profound and lasting effect on psychological development and personality. For example, firstborns are seen as conservative and high achieving, middle children as natural mediators, and youngest children as charming and outgoing. In his book Born to Rebel, Frank Sulloway argues that firstborns to be more conscientious, more socially dominant, less agreeable, and less open to new ideas compared to laterborns. Literature reviews that have examined many studies and attempted to control for confounding variables tend to find minimal effects for birth order on personality. In her review of the scientific literature, Judith Rich Harris suggests that birth order effects may exist within the context of the family of origin, but that they are not enduring aspects of personality.
Some research has found that firstborn children have slightly higher IQs on average than later born children. However, other research finds no such effect.
In practice, systematic birth order research is a challenge because it is difficult to control for all of the variables that are statistically related to birth order. For example, large families are generally lower in socioeconomic status than small families, so third born children are more likely than firstborn children to come from poorer families. Spacing of children, parenting style, and gender are additional variables to consider.

Regressive behavior at the birth of a new sibling

The arrival of a new baby is especially stressful for firstborns and for siblings between 3 and 5 years old. Regressive behavior and aggressive behavior, such as handling the baby roughly, can also occur. All of these symptoms are considered to be typical and developmentally appropriate for children between the ages of 3-5. While some can be prevented, the remainder can be improved within a few months. Regressive behavior may include demand for a bottle, thumb sucking, requests to wear diapers (even if toilet-trained), or requests to carry a security blanket.
Regressive behaviors are the child’s way of demanding the parents’ love and attention. Parents can deal with these behaviors by explaining to the older child their new sibling role, making this role sound exciting, answering questions about the baby and the process of birth (as appropriate), or reserving time each day just for the parent and older child.
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that instead of protesting or telling children to act their age, parents should simply grant their requests without becoming upset. The affected children will soon return to their normal routine when they realize that they now have just as important a place in the family as the new sibling. Most of the behaviors can be improved within a few months.
The University of Michigan Health System advises that most occurrences of regressive behavior are mild and to be expected; however, it recommends parents to contact a pediatrician or child psychologist if the older child tries to hurt the baby, if regressive behavior does not improve within 2 or 3 months, or if the parents have other questions or concerns.

Sibling rivalry

Sibling rivalry is a type of competition or animosity among brothers and sisters. It appears to be particularly intense when children are very close in age and of the same gender. Sibling rivalry can involve aggression; however, it is not the same as sibling abuse where one child victimizes another.
Sibling rivalry usually starts right after, or before, the arrival of the second child. While siblings will still love each other, it is not uncommon for them to bicker and be malicious to each other. Children are sensitive from the age of one year to differences in parental treatment and by three years they have a sophisticated grasp of family rules and can evaluate themselves in relation to their siblings. One study found that the age group 10 to 15 reported the highest level of competition between siblings Sibling rivalry can continue into adulthood and sibling relationships can change dramatically over the years. Approximately one-third of adults describe their relationship with siblings as rivalrous or distant. However, rivalry often lessens over time and at least 80 percent of siblings over age 60 enjoy close ties. Evolutionary psychologists explain sibling rivalry in terms of parental investment and kin selection: a parent is inclined to spread resources equally among all children in the family, but a child wants most of the resources for him or herself.
The opposite phenomenon, when relatives do fall in love, is known as genetic sexual attraction. This can occur between siblings brought up apart from each other, for example, adoptees who are re-united in adulthood.

See also

wikiquote Siblings


sister in Breton: Breur
sister in Catalan: Germans
sister in Czech: Sourozenec
sister in German: Verwandtschaftsbeziehung#Geschwister
sister in Estonian: Õved
sister in Spanish: Hermano
sister in Esperanto: Frato
sister in French: Frères et sœurs
sister in Classical Chinese: 兄弟
sister in Italian: Fratello
sister in Dutch: Broer
sister in Japanese: 兄弟姉妹
sister in Portuguese: Irmão
sister in Russian: Сибсы
sister in Swedish: Syskon
sister in Yiddish: געשוויסטער
sister in Contenese: 兄弟姊妹

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Greek, LPN, RN, abbess, affiliate, ally, alter ego, analogon, analogue, associate, aunt, auntie, belonger, blood brother, brethren, brother, bub, bubba, bud, buddy, canoness, card-carrier, card-carrying member, cardholder, catechumen, charge nurse, charter member, church member, churchman, churchwoman, clergywoman, close copy, close match, clubber, clubman, clubwoman, cognate, committeeman, communicant, companion, complement, comrade, congenator, congener, conventioneer, conventioner, conventionist, conventual, coordinate, correlate, correlative, correspondent, counterpart, country cousin, cousin, cousin once removed, cousin twice removed, daughter, district nurse, dues-paying member, enlistee, enrollee, equivalent, father, fellow, first cousin, foster brother, frater, fraternity man, graduate nurse, grandnephew, grandniece, granduncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, guildsman, half brother, honorary member, image, initiate, insider, joiner, kid brother, kindred spirit, lady superior, laic, lay brother, lay sister, layman, laywoman, licensed practical nurse, life member, like, likeness, mate, member, mother, mother superior, near duplicate, nephew, niece, novice, nun, nuncle, nunks, nunky, nurse, nursing sister, obverse, one of us, parallel, parishioner, pendant, picture, pledge, postulant, practical nurse, prioress, private-duty nurse, probationer, probationist, probe, public health nurse, reciprocal, registered nurse, religieuse, school nurse, scrub nurse, second cousin, second self, secular, secular canoness, similitude, simulacrum, sis, sissy, sister-german, sistern, socius, son, sorority girl, sorority woman, soul mate, stepbrother, stepsister, student nurse, such, suchlike, superioress, surgical nurse, tally, the like of, the likes of, the reverend mother, trained nurse, twin, unc, uncle, uncs, uterine brother, visiting nurse
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