English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is there a single word to describe the loss of a sibling?

Without a proper name it is hard for the grief to be acknowledged.

share|improve this question
It's a bereavement. English doesn't have a special word for loss of a sibling as distinct from any other family member or close friend. – FumbleFingers Jul 19 '13 at 20:21
Do you know of a single word for the loss of any other particular relation? Why does the lack of a single word make it hard to acknowledge...why can't it be acknowledged with your title description? – Mitch Jul 19 '13 at 20:41

No there isn't.

You wrote "Without a proper name it is hard for the grief to be acknowledged"

"loss of a sibling" should be more than enough for someone to acknowledge the grief, even to those without siblings themselves.

You have only asked for a word to describe the situation which means there is a chance that you yourself have lost a sibling, and that is enough for me to feel a deep sense of remorse. So as I said, simply stating that you have lost a sibling should be more than enough.

There is a word (which is to be used loosely as a transposition from the animal kingdom) for the killing of one's sibling: Siblicide.

More specifically Fratricide for the killing of a brother and Sororicide for the killing of a sister.

Unfortunately there isn't a word for the loss of a sibling although now that you have mentioned it, I feel as though it would be a good idea to have one.

If it is indeed the case that you have lost a sibling then I wish you all the best and I have no doubt everyone else reading your question shares the sentiment.

share|improve this answer
OED restricts siblicide to the action of young birds in a nest: I don't believe there is a term for the human equivalent. – TimLymington Jul 19 '13 at 22:00
Siblicide has been observed in other animal species such as amphibians and mammals. For example Oxford dictionary defines: 'the killing of a sibling or siblings, as a behaviour pattern typical in various animal groups.'. It would be fine to transpose this definition to humans as we do with many things to describe a situation. I agree that it is most common within species of birds. – Aaron Jul 20 '13 at 11:49
In the pshyco-medical world the term is used with human beings in mind. I have seen the term used to describe the deadly rivalry observed between royal siblings throughout history. – Aaron Jul 20 '13 at 11:56

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.