Biological sisters who share many phenotypic facial features

A sister is a woman or a girl who shares parents or a parent with another individual; a female sibling.[1] The male counterpart is a brother. Although the term typically refers to a familial relationship, it is sometimes used endearingly to refer to non-familial relationships.[2] A full sister is a first-degree relative.


Two child sisters, c. 1911.
Three sisters from the Spencer family, c. 1902.
Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil and her sister Princess Leopoldina riding horses, c. 1868.

The English word sister comes from Old Norse systir which itself derives from Proto-Germanic *swestēr, both of which have the same meaning, i.e. sister. Some studies have found that sisters display more traits indicating jealousy around their siblings than their male counterparts, brothers.[3] In some cultures, sisters are afforded a role of being under the protection by male siblings, especially older brothers, from issues ranging from bullies or sexual advances by womanizers.[4] In some quarters, the term sister has gradually broadened its colloquial meaning to include individuals stipulating kinship.[5] In response, in order to avoid equivocation, some publishers prefer the usage of female sibling over sister.[6] Males with a twin sister sometimes view her as their female alter ego, or what they would have been like if they had two X chromosomes.[7] A study in Perth, Australia found that girls having only youngers brothers resulted in a chastity effect: losing their virginity on average more than a year later than average. This has been hypothesized as being attributed to the pheromones in their brothers' sweat and household-related errands.[8]

Sororal relationships

Various studies have shown that older sisters are likely to give a varied gender role to their younger siblings, as well as being more likely to develop a close bond with their younger siblings.[9] Older sisters are more likely to play with their younger siblings.[10] Younger siblings display a more needy behavior when in close proximity to their older sister[11] and are more likely to be tolerant of an older sister's bad behavior.[12] Boys with only an older sister are more likely to display stereotypically male behavior, and such masculine boys increased their masculine behavior with the more sisters they have.[13] The reverse is true for young boys with several sisters, as they tend to be feminine, however, they outgrow this by the time they approach pubescence.[14] Boys with older sisters were less likely to be delinquent or have emotional and behavioral disorders.[15] A younger sister is less likely to be scolded by older siblings than a younger brother.[16] The most common recreational activity between older brother/younger sister pairs is art drawing.[9] Some studies also found a correlation between having an older sister and constructive discussions about safe sexual practices.[17] Some studies have shown that men without sisters are more likely to be ineffectual at courtship and romantic relationships.[18]

Famous sisters

Fictional works about sisters

Two Sisters by William-Adolphe Bouguereau





See also


  1. ^ "Definition of sister in English". Oxford Dictionaries. Archived from the original on May 24, 2019. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  2. ^ Mufwene, Salikoko S. "The pragmatics of kinship terms in Kituba." (1988): 441–454.
  3. ^ Volling, B. L.; McElwain, N.L.; Miller, A.L. (2002). "Emotion Regulation in Context: The Jealousy Complex between Young Siblings and its Relations with Child and Family Characteristics". Child Development 73 (2): 581–600.
  4. ^ Handbook of Cultural Psychiatry — Page 67, Wen-Shing Tseng – 2001
  5. ^ van der Burghe, Pierre (1987). The Ethnic Phenomenon. p. 27.
  6. ^ Olshewsky, Thomas (1969). Problems in the philosophy of language. p. 286.
  7. ^ McCallum, Robyn. "Other Selves: subjectivity and the doppelganger in Australian adolescent fiction. Example of the sister in a sentence "The sisters live in the convent at Lafayette Towers." Writing the Australian child: Texts and contexts in fictions for children (1996): 17–36.
  8. ^ Pincott, Jena E (March 20, 2011). "Do Brothers Stall Their Sisters' Sex Lives?". Psychology Today. Archived from the original on 18 Jan 2023.
  9. ^ a b Gender — Page 53, Leanne Franklin – 2012
  10. ^ Play from Birth to Twelve: Contexts, Perspectives, and Meanings, Doris Bergen 2015
  11. ^ Sisters and Brothers — Page 78, Judy Dunn – 1985
  12. ^ The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science, Volume 4, Charles B. Nemeroff, 2002 p 1524
  13. ^ Gender Development — Page 300, Lynn S. Liben – 2009
  14. ^ Gender Development, Sheri A. Berenbaum, 2013
  15. ^ Advances in Child Development and Behavior, Volume 26, p 161, 1996
  16. ^ He & she: how children develop their sex role identity, Wendy Schempp Matthews – 1979 p 162
  17. ^ Handbook of Adolescent Psychology, Contextual Influences on Adolescent Development, Laurence Steinberg, PhD – 2009 p 61
  18. ^ Leventhal, Gerald S. "Influence of brothers and sisters on sex-role behavior." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 16.3 (1970): 452.