Printable Version
Pronunciation: sib-ling Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. One of multiple individuals sharing parents, someone's brother or sister. 2. One of multiple things sharing common properties or characteristics.

Notes: Miracle of miracles! A disyllabic English word pronounced exactly the way it is spelled! This word is a noun derived from sib "a kinship group" that may also be used to refer to a member of such a group. It comes with two nouns, sibship and sibness, both meaning "belonging to a sib" or "the status of a sib".

In Play: Siblings include brothers and sisters: "I am 6 and 7 year's older than my siblings; they could have just as well been the kids next door." Envy within a family is often called sibling rivalry. The classic case of sibling rivalry is the envy of the brother of the prodigal son in the parable of the lost son in Luke 15:11-32.

Word History: Today's Good Word is a derivation containing sib + -ling. The latter is a personal noun suffix, usually referring to something young, weak, or small: weakling, starveling, gosling, fingerling. In Old English sib was sibb and meant simply "kinship". Sibb came from the same Old Germanic word that produced Dutch sibbe and German Sippe "clan, tribe, family group". Old Germanic inherited this word from Proto-Indo-European swe-bho-, an extension of swe-/svo- "self", which also produced Russian svoj. English self and German selbst came from an ablaut variant of the same root, sel-bho-. (Let's all tip our hats to Jackie Strauss of Philadelphia for recommending yet another excellent Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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