If you’re learning English, you might be confused about what kind of words there are available to call your wife’s sister’s husband. This article will introduce you to new names to call them and how best to refer to them.
What Is The Name Of The Relation To Your Wife’s Sister’s Husband?
Your wife’s sister’s husband is known as your “brother-in-law.” It’s the preferred term to call them because they are related to your wife’s sister (your sister-in-law by extension). “In-laws” refer to family members that you’ve married into (i.e., “mother-in-law” and “father-in-law”).
The definition of “brother-in-law,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “the husband of your sister or brother, or the brother of your husband or wife, or the man who is married to the sister or brother of your wife or husband.”
The above definition covers just about every option available to “brothers” who you’ve married into. “In-laws” always refer to family members not related by blood but instead by marriage.
We can also clarify the meaning with the Oxford English Dictionary to show that “brother-in-law” means: “the brother of your husband or wife; your sister’s husband; the husband of your husband or wife’s sister.”
There’s also a great Wikipedia page entry that teaches us all about siblings-in-law and how we refer to them. It’s good to use this whenever we’re talking about brothers or sisters that become part of our family after we’ve married into it.
Etymology Of The Word “Brother-In-Law”
The etymology for the word breaks down “brother-in-law” into two main parts. To understand it, we need to look at “brother” and “in-law” separately and then see how they work together.
“Brother” dates back to the 14th century and Middle English. It’s used to talk about a male relation within the same ancestry, and that means you share the same blood and historical family tree with the male in question (your brother).
“In-law” dates back to the 13th century, where “law” refers to the Canon Law, which defines the relationships in marriages. The original word in Middle English was “inlaue.”
Of course, combining these two words gave us “Brother-in-law” as we know it today. Now combining the two etymologies, we can create the following definition:
A brother-in-law is a male relation that comes from a marriage outside of a direct ancestral line.
In other words, a brother-in-law is officially a brother who isn’t related by blood.
Would People Look Weird At You, If You Referred To Your Wife’s Sister’s Husband As Your “Brother-In-Law”?
Just because “brother-in-law” is the correct term doesn’t mean it’s always suitable when you use it to address the person in question. It’s good to know whether it’s acceptable before you try to use it.
“Brother-in-law” is perfectly acceptable to refer to your wife’s sister’s husband. No one will look weirdly at you for doing so.
If you’re worried about this, you do not need to. It’s all in your head, and you’ve got nothing to worry about. If anything, it would be much weirder if you didn’t call your wife’s sister’s husband your “brother-in-law.”
Think of it like this, your wife’s sister is your sister-in-law. You married into the family, and while there’s no blood relation, you accept she is a sister-in-law. Well, her husband did exactly the same thing, and your wife is now his sister-in-law.
By extension, that means that he is your brother-in-law, and you are his brother-in-law. That’s just how it works when you want to discuss “in-laws” in English.
Other Ways To Refer To Your Wife’s Sister’s Husband
There are plenty of alternative options you can use when talking about your wife’s sister’s husband. Again, there’s nothing wrong with brother-in-law, and it’s actually one of the best versions out there. Still, if you want an alternative, you can use one of the following.
- Use his name
If you’re really comfortable with him, then you might be able to use “brother” as an alternative. That’s only for those that are the closest of friends.,
Otherwise, we recommend using his name or simply calling him a generic friendly name, like “mate” or “bud.” None of these words will create problems for you, and no one will think you’re strange for saying any of them.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.