The first time that I heard the word idren was in the song "Bad Boys", which is the theme song for the television show "COPS". When and where did this word enter the English language?

The song lyrics are in English, but idren is an unusual word.

Bad Boys (theme from Cops)

Nobody naw give you no break
Police naw give you no break
Soldier naw give you no break
Not even you 'idren naw give you no break

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  • Google idren. What do you see?? – Hot Licks Nov 20 '17 at 13:16
  • Ya know...even though the answer is easily discoverable by googling, I'm glad it was asked here because I never knew about it. – Mitch Nov 20 '17 at 13:52

Idren is a plural noun originated from Rastafari English which means:

One's peers, or spiritual brothers and sisters.

It derives from a blend of I and bredren, another Rastafarian term which means a close friend, a family member, a comrade.

Rastafarian English is a dialect primarily spoken by Jamaican Rastafarians. The Rastafarian language is different from Jamaican Patois because it is a play on English words, rather than being an entirely separate dialect. The Rastafarian movement, which began in the 1930s in Jamaica, is based on positive beliefs like unity, peace, and one love. So Rastafarian language is a reflection of these positive beliefs.

The following interesting paper by Benjamin Slade: Overstanding Idren: Special Features of Rastafari English Morphology explains that the formation of I-words is typical of Rastafarian dialect:

I-words, I would argue, are even further removed om word-play and punning than are over- standings. Thus I disagree with Nettleford’s assessment:

”The play on words—a Jamaican facility that extends om theatrical punning to every- day speech—is artlessly embraced by the Rastafarian in the repertoire of “I” (ai) words which Mrs Pollard indicates will, on closer examination, disclose that “ai” is not merely used as a pronominal form to replace the Jamaican Creole “mi” but is also used as prefix to some nouns a replacement for the initial sound in any number of words of varying function in a sentence.(Nettleford, in introduction to Pollard 2000: xi–xii)

and I-words formations are often applied to term with “spiritual” and “social “ connotations such as:

a. Iration < creation b. Iman < human (but meaning similar to pronominal “I” (see above)) c. Ital “spiritually clean food, ∼ kosher, halal” < vital d. Idren “male or female co-Rasta(s)” < bredren(brethren)/sistren e. Iwa < hour, but generally meaning “time”.

  • 3
    Great answer, but is "bredren" actually a new word or just a pronounciation of "brethren"? – Max Williams Nov 20 '17 at 8:50
  • 1
    @MaxWilliams - it appears it ultimately derives from brethren, probably a local pronounciation. yourdictionary.com/bredrin – user240918 Nov 20 '17 at 8:56
  • @user159691: Noting that sistren is also "Jamaican English" for the female equivalent of brethren, it seems reasonable to suppose idren is simply an all-inclusive gender-neutral form that includes both sexes. – FumbleFingers Nov 21 '17 at 16:04
  • @FumbleFingers - il agree and as you may have noticed in the definition I provided, it says “brothers and sisters”. – user240918 Nov 21 '17 at 17:07

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