Both the Slavic brat (Брат) and the Latin frater mean brother.

Are they cognates? Or is their phonetic "proximity" a red herring?

Related: How were “bratrъ/bratъ” and “sestra” formed in PSl?


1 Answer 1


Yes, frater and Брат are related.

They ultimately come from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰréh₂tēr, from which indeed brat/Брат in various Slavic languages also is derived. You can see the descendants on Wiktionary. In Latin, the PIE initial bʰ- regularly yielded f-. Another example is the PIE *bʰer-, which yields bear in English and ferre in Latin.

It's certainly good to question whether two words are "false cognates", as plenty of words in languages can look the same but come from entirely separate origins. In this case, though, the various words for "brother" in Proto-Indo-European languages is actually clear cut.

As far as Wiktionary goes, it is generally reliable, but you can always check a Latin etymological dictionary like De Vaan's if you're unsure.

  • 1
    worth noting that whilst wiktionary is generally reliable (when it gives etymologies that is), it's citation requirements are pretty lax. For someone with enough background knowledge to distinguish plausible etymologies from folk that's good enough for quick checks, but for people without any background can be tricky
    – Tristan
    Apr 15 at 17:44
  • 2
    @Tristan Definitely a sound point. I've found that it has generally done a good job at removing their folk etymologies, but every once in a while some incorrect facts creep in.
    – cmw
    Apr 15 at 19:34

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