French Word of the Day: Adelphie

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
French Word of the Day: Adelphie
French Word of the Day: Adelphie

When “brothers” and “sisters” don’t quite cut it in linguistic terms


Why do I need to know adelphie?

Because it’s a one-word French noun for brothers and sisters.

What does it mean?

There’s a French word for a group of brothers (fratrie), and a French word for a group of sisters (sororie). And there’s a word for a group made up of brothers AND sisters. 

Adelphie - pronounced A-delf-ee - describes a mixed group of children from the same family.

Now, French, notoriously, prioritises masculine over feminine, so when a group of females are joined by a single male, the now-larger group is classed as masculine, even though there are still more females in it. This is because the French - mostly - don't see masculine or feminine in grammar terms as having anything to do with men, women, sex or gender, although in matters of job titles, this is starting to change.

But, for gender agreement matters in a sentence, adelphie is - really rather pleasingly - feminine. Go figure.

Use it like this

Elle est issue d’une adelphie de sept frères et sœurs - She comes from a family of seven brothers and sisters.



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

Brandon 2023/05/16 11:38
Is this really a word? I didn’t find it either in Collins or WordReference and very few results come up on Google.

See Also