Monday, December 23, 2019
OED, s.v. bro, sense 5.c: “A young man characterized as someone who addresses his friends and associates as ‘bro’; esp. one belonging to and socializing with a close-knit group of male peers, typically participating in activities perceived as male-oriented or unintellectual, and sometimes displaying boisterous or rowdy behaviour.”
The etymology of ‘bro’ as in part a graphic abbreviation of ‘brother’ is unremarkable. The OED entry gives c.1530 as the earliest attestation, but bro culture was thriving as early as the 10th century. The example below comes from Durham Cathedral Library Ms.A.IV.19, f.12v:
bro’, deado aron gie ⁊ lif iwero gideglad is mið criste in gode
Fratres, mortui estis et vita vestra abscondita est cum Christo in Deo.