View synonyms for branch



[ branch, brahnch ]


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

    Synonyms: shoot, offshoot

  2. a limb, offshoot, or ramification of any main stem:

    the branches of a deer's antlers.

  3. any member or part of a body or system; a section or subdivision:

    the various branches of learning.

  4. a local operating division of a business, library, or the like.
  5. 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.
  6. a tributary stream or any stream that is not a large river or a bayou.
  7. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. branch water ( def 2 ).
  8. 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 ).
  9. Computers. a point in a computer program where the computer selects one of two or more instructions to execute, according to some criterion.
  10. 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.

    Synonyms: subdivide, ramify

  3. 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 phrase

  1. to expand or extend, as business activities, pursuits, interests, etc.:

    The business is branching out into computers.


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



combining form

  1. (in zoology) indicating gills




/ 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
  3. an offshoot or secondary part

    a branch of a deer's antlers

    1. a subdivision or subsidiary section of something larger or more complex

      branches of learning

      branch of the family

    2. ( as modifier )

      a branch office

  4. any small stream
  5. maths a section of a curve separated from the rest of the curve by discontinuities or special points
  6. Also calledjump computing a departure from the normal sequence of programmed instructions into a separate program area
  7. an alternative route in an atomic or nuclear decay series


  1. intr (of a tree or other plant) to produce or possess branches
  2. intrusually foll byfrom (of stems, roots, etc) to grow and diverge (from another part)
  3. to divide or be divided into subsidiaries or offshoots
  4. introften foll byoff to diverge from the main way, road, topic, etc

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Derived Forms

  • ˈbranchˌlike, adjective
  • ˈbranchless, adjective
  • ˈbranchy, adjective

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Other Words From

  • branchless adjective
  • branchlike adjective
  • inter·branch adjective
  • multi·branched adjective
  • outbranch verb (used with object)
  • un·branched adjective
  • un·branching adjective
  • under·branch noun
  • well-branched adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of branch1

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English bra(u)nche, from Anglo-French; Old French branche, from Late Latin branca “paw,” of uncertain origin

Origin of branch2

< French -branche, New Latin -branchia, from Latin branchiae “gills” ( branchia ( def ) )

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Word History and Origins

Origin of branch1

from Latin: branchia

Origin of branch2

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

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Idioms and Phrases

  • olive branch
  • root and branch

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

The new safety branch of California’s Public Advocate Office has lodged some of its first complaints against SDG&E’s wildfire mitigation plans, arguing that it lacks credible science and could actually make wildfires worse.

In heavily forested Northern California, where trees tower over power lines in some cases, branches can fall on a line and cause a spark.

That’s because the independent agency of the executive branch is a service that touches every person in the country, every residence, and every business.

From Fortune

With bank branches closed, it has been harder to make large cash deposits.

Its branches have donated to Republican politicians and it controversially purchased the Silent Sam Confederate statue that was torn down at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

And that solution came from a homemade brew Branch and her sister created together.

Through her haircare line, named for her grandmother, Jessie Branch, Titi Branch was revolutionary.

Branch helped women feel beautiful by encouraging them to embrace their natural selves as she had.

Branch grew up in Queens, NY, the daughter of an African American man and a Japanese woman.

But at 45, Branch died of a reported suicide, leaving behind family, friends and a legacy that goes beyond the beauty industry.

I had those words in my thoughts four years ago, when I cut him down from the branch of the Patriarch.

Each seems satisfied with the way his own branch is getting on: Winter is the quicker worker.

A girl was moved to pity by a picture of a lamb caught in a thicket, and tried to lift the branch that lay across the animal.

The senior branch of the family being thus extinct the whole of the entailed estate had devolved on me.

It is wonderful how long a withered leaf will sometimes cling to its branch.


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Words That Use -branch

What does -branch mean?

The combining formbranch is used like a suffix denoting “gills” or “having gills.” It is very occasionally used in scientific terms, especially in zoology.

The form –branch comes from Latin branchiae, meaning “gills.” Yes—gills. Discover why at our entry for branchia. Despite the similarity in spelling, –branch is not related to the noun branch, which derives from Late Latin branca, “footprint” or “paw.”

What are variants of –branch?

While –branch doesn’t have any variants, it is related to the combining form branchio, as in branchiostegous. Want to know more? Read our Words That Use article for branchio-.

Examples of -branch

A scientific term that features the form –branch is opisthobranch, “any gastropod mollusk of the order Opisthobranchia,” such as sea slugs.

The form opistho means “back,” “behind,” or “rear,” from Greek ópisthen. The –branch part of the word means “gills.” Opisthobranch literally translates to “gills behind.” The name refers to the fact that the gills of these organisms are located behind the heart.

What are some words that use the equivalent of the combining form –branch in Latin?

What are some other forms that –branch may be commonly confused with?

Not every word that ends with the exact letters –branch, such as anabranch or disbranch. Learn why disbranch means “to break a branch from a tree” at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

The combining form lamelli represents lamella, a thin plate, scale, or membrane. With this in mind, what does lamellibranch literally mean?

More About Branch

What is a basic definition of branch?

A branch is a protruding part of a tree, something that juts out from a main part, or a division of a group or organization. The word branch has many other senses as a noun and a verb.

For most trees, underground roots connect to the thick trunk that extends toward the sky. Jutting out of the trunk are branches, smaller limbs of the tree. Main branches, also called boughs, have smaller extensions with leaves on them. These are also called branches, but more often called twigs.

  • Used in a sentence: I watched my cat climb the branches of the oak tree. 

Branch also refers to similar offshoots from objects that aren’t trees.

  • Used in a sentence: The rope got tangled in the branches of the buck’s antlers. 

In a more figurative sense, branch is used to mean a division of a main group or organization.

  • Real-life examples: The Army, Navy, and Air Force are three major branches of the United States military. Botany, zoology, and microbiology are three major branches of biology.
  • Used in a sentence: We learned in history class that the government is divided into three branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial.

Where does branch come from?

The first records of branch come from around 1250. It ultimately comes from the Late Latin branca, meaning “paw” or “foot.”

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to branch?

  • branchless (adjective)
  • branchlike (adjective)
  • multibranched (adjective)
  • outbranch (verb)
  • unbranched (adjective)
  • underbranch (noun)

What are some synonyms for branch?

What are some words that share a root or word element with branch

What are some words that often get used in discussing branch?

How is branch used in real life?

Branch is a common word that most often means a tree limb or something that splits off from a main part.



Try using branch!

True or False?

A branch is the main part of something that other divisions will split off from.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




Branaghbranch cut