In English there is siblings, in German Geschwister. To the best of my knowledge, French does not have a single word but rather uses (les) frères et sœurs construction.

So does French lack indeed a single word as I think, for such a basic situation? Can we use sibling(s) as it is in French?

  • So if I met two cousins how would I ask 'which of your parents are "siblings"?' <<Lesquels de vos parents sont frères ou sœurs ?>>
    – Tom Adair
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 7:44

8 Answers 8


There is a word: adelphe. It is not really used anymore, but it has exactly the same meaning as sibling in English.

  • The existence of a word in a dictionary is not proof of use.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 14:38
  • 7
    @Lambie "It is not really used anymore"...
    – Simon
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 17:26
  • 4
    So little used that most French speakers would need a dictionary nowadays to check what it means :-)
    – Frank
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 14:06
  • 1
    @Frank Love your siblings in Philadelphia!
    – jlliagre
    Commented Mar 16 at 18:12

There is a term: "fratrie", but it lacks the non-gender feeling that siblings has. I think that's why it's not used as often as in other languages, because of this bias.

Still "fratrie" encompasses brothers and sisters in a family.

  • 1
    Merci. Like fratelli in Italian language and fratria in Greek language.
    – Dimitris
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 21:13
  • Yes, exactly. Obviously same roots here :) Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 21:14
  • 2
    Important precision (that to me explains why it isn't used as often as in other languages more than the gender bias): "une fratrie" refers to all the brothers and sisters in a family, and can't be used to designate a single member, contrary to "a sibling".
    – Blackhole
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 22:40
  • @Blackhole: But even in English, if you're talking about a specific sibling, you're much more likely to say "my sister" than "my sibling". Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 12:39

I’m a Francophone here and no we don’t have a word for "siblings" in French, actually not in Canada for sure.

By the way, I would never use "adelphe" ou "fratrie", because the word adelphe is not known in French even if it’s in the dictionary, we never use this word. For the word "fratrie", I don’t know about France, but in Canada people will probably be confused, because even me I had to search to found the real meaning of the word.

To make sure everyone understands, just say : frère et sœur, comme dans la phrase: As-tu des frères et sœurs?

NB : By the way, don’t forget that there are a lot more words in English than in French.

  • This is accurate. Everyone says: frères et soeurs unless they are anthropologists or genealogists.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 14:37
  • 5
    « Fratrie » un un mot très courant en France.
    – Toto
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 15:37
  • 3
    @Lambie I don't understand why you are always so negative and absolute. To the best of my knowledge fratrie is not a word only used by anthropologists and genealogists.
    – Dimitris
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 20:40
  • 3
    On trouve fratrie 1000 fois sur le seul site de LaPresse (Canada). C'est un site d'actualité grand public. Courant au Québec, je sais pas, mais faut pas charrier non plus. La quantité de mots au lexique anglais n'est pas pertinent, il s'agit surtout de choix lexicographiques et en français on a davantage de locutions pour dire des termes qu'on aurait par exemple en nom composé en anglais. En plus le lexique anglais est un ramassis de trucs qui ne sont plus en usage, et est très libéral. Le lexique courant est comparable en nombre de mots. Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 21:25
  • fratie n'est pas courant pour sibling. On dit en anglais: Do you have any siblings? + J'ai trois fraties? I don't think so. Avez-vous des frères et soeurs?
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 22:34

Well, If I refer myself to the French Academy Dictionary, the word "fratrie" would be more likely to be defined as the "group composed of your siblings" (siblings having there the emphasis put on the individuals obviously). And adelphos/adelphé are greek words and subsequently don't have an entry in the dictionary, at the very least they weren't used in French around the publication of the 1st Edition of the Dictionary (1694) until now, meaning they were never used...

source (in French): https://www.dictionnaire-academie.fr/article/DNP0109

  • Bienvenue sur French Language SE. This reads like a comment other answers that mention fratrie and adelphe. Please take a moment to tour the site and see the help center, and welcome.
    – livresque
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 22:49

Sibling used to mean relative, brothers-and-sisters is a modern evolution of this ancient germanic word.

Geschwister has a feminine bias (Schwester).

Fratrie has a masculine bias (frère).

All these words, included the French word contrary to your supposition, are used to mean brothers-and-sisters, but not the Greek φρατρία the meaning of which being more tribe than family (another evolution of the Indo-european root).


Single words have been found but are not countable (in context, for individual siblings), unlike frères et soeurs. This simple solution should prove insightful:

— Vous êtes combien chez vous ?
— Dans ma famille nous sommes quatre enfants, en plus de ma mère et de mon père.

A translation to siblings (or even a substantive in the question phrase) is not required for this basic situation.

  • p.s. ...en plus de mes parents. Voir si la question justifie l'ajout. Commented May 3, 2022 at 23:22

Complément des réponses : il existe quelques attestations du mot "sibling(s)" en francais (ngram). Selon https://fr.wiktionary.org c'est très rare. Le même lemme dit que germain est plus courant (pour l'anthropologie au moins).

  • 2
    Attention, c'est un terme technique d'anthropologie que >99% des Français ne comprendraient pas. Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 8:45
  • @Gilles C'est noté ; réponse modifiée. Merci !
    – Dimitris
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 9:23
  • Je ne pense pas que le mot lemme s'applique: Proposition dont la démonstration prépare souvent celle d'un théorème. Larousse.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 14:39
  • Seule l'expression : « Ils sont cousins germains » est usitée qui comprend aussi « Ils sont tous cousins germains » pour inclure la gent féminine.
    – Personne
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 16:31
  • 1
    @Lambie I am neither a native speaker nor a linguist but I know the lemme has both the mathematical and lingustic meaning. The same holds true in English as well.
    – Dimitris
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 20:47

Il est à noter que, comme souvent dans la langue française, le masculin l'emporte sur le féminin. Aussi on peut dire : "tes frères", même si dans le lot il y a des filles, pour désigner "tes frères et sœurs". "La fratrie" englobe elle aussi tout les enfants.

  • 2
    Merci pour votre réponse. Je ne suis pas locuteur français mais je sais que de nos jours pas tout le monde accepte ledit "masculin générique". (voir articles sur la féminisation de la langue française: nouvelobs.com/societe/20190228.OBS0960/… ; grazia.fr/news-et-societe/news/… etc.)
    – Dimitris
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 19:44
  • Aussi europe1.fr/societe/…
    – Dimitris
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 19:49
  • 3
    Auriez-vous une référence quant au terme "frères" englobant aussi les soeurs ? Autant je comprends le terme "fratrie" dans ce sens, autant le terme frères désigne pour moi les membres masculins de la fratrie. Il me semble que dans le language courant, "frères et soeurs" est souvent employé quand-même pour lever toute ambiguïté
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 14:39
  • Quand j'etais petit dans ma famille, quand mon père me disait " va chercher tes frères" il sous-entendais tout mes frères et soeurs. Il est vrai cependant que ce genre d'utilisation dans le language courant est rare de nos jours. Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 4:49

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