[ branch, brahnch ]
See synonyms for: branchbranchedbranchesbranching on

  1. a division or subdivision of the stem or axis of a tree, shrub, or other plant.

  2. a limb, offshoot, or ramification of any main stem: the branches of a deer's antlers.

  1. any member or part of a body or system; a section or subdivision: the various branches of learning.

  2. a local operating division of a business, library, or the like.

  3. a line of family descent stemming from a particular ancestor, as distinguished from some other line or lines from the same stock; a division of a family.

  4. a tributary stream or any stream that is not a large river or a bayou.

  5. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. branch water (def. 2).

  6. Linguistics. (in the classification of related languages within a family) a category of a lower order than a subfamily and of a higher order than a subbranch or a group, as the Germanic branch of Indo-European.: Compare group (def. 4a).

  7. Computers. a point in a computer program where the computer selects one of two or more instructions to execute, according to some criterion.

  8. Nautical. a warrant or license permitting a pilot to navigate in certain waters.

verb (used without object)
  1. to put forth branches; spread in branches.

  2. to divide into separate parts or subdivisions; diverge: The main road branches off to the left.

  1. to expand or extend, as business activities: The bank has plans to branch throughout the state.

verb (used with object)
  1. to divide into branches or sections.

  2. to adorn with needlework; decorate with embroidery, as in textile fabrics.

Verb Phrases
  1. branch out, to expand or extend, as business activities, pursuits, interests, etc.: The business is branching out into computers.

Origin of branch

1250–1300; Middle English bra(u)nche<Anglo-French; Old French branche<Late Latin branca paw, of uncertain origin

synonym study For branch

1. Branch, bough, limb refer to divisions of a tree. Branch is general, meaning either a large or a small division. Bough refers only to the larger branches: a bough loaded with apples. A limb is a large primary division of a tree trunk or of a bough: to climb out on a limb.

Other words for branch

Other words from branch

  • branchless, adjective
  • branchlike, adjective
  • in·ter·branch, adjective
  • mul·ti·branched, adjective
  • outbranch, verb (used with object)
  • un·branched, adjective
  • un·branch·ing, adjective
  • un·der·branch, noun
  • well-branched, adjective

Other definitions for -branch (2 of 2)


  1. a combining form for forming nouns and adjectives that denote gill formations or animals having gill formations.

Origin of -branch

<French -branche, New Latin -branchia, from Latin branchiae “gills” (see branchia) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use branch in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for branch (1 of 2)


/ (brɑːntʃ) /

  1. a secondary woody stem arising from the trunk or bough of a tree or the main stem of a shrub

  2. a subdivision of the stem or root of any other plant

  1. an offshoot or secondary part: a branch of a deer's antlers

    • a subdivision or subsidiary section of something larger or more complex: branches of learning; branch of the family

    • (as modifier): a branch office

  2. US any small stream

  3. maths a section of a curve separated from the rest of the curve by discontinuities or special points

  4. Also called: jump computing a departure from the normal sequence of programmed instructions into a separate program area

  5. an alternative route in an atomic or nuclear decay series

  1. (intr) (of a tree or other plant) to produce or possess branches

  2. (intr usually foll by from) (of stems, roots, etc) to grow and diverge (from another part)

  1. to divide or be divided into subsidiaries or offshoots

  2. (intr often foll by off) to diverge from the main way, road, topic, etc

Origin of branch

C13: from Old French branche, from Late Latin branca paw, foot

Derived forms of branch

  • branchless, adjective
  • branchlike, adjective
  • branchy, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for branch- (2 of 2)


adj combining form, n combining form
  1. (in zoology) indicating gills: lamellibranch

Origin of branch-

from Latin: branchia

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with branch


In addition to the idioms beginning with branch

  • branch off
  • branch out

also see:

  • olive branch
  • root and branch

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.