• synonyms


[branch, brahnch]
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  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.
  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.
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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.
  3. to expand or extend, as business activities: The bank has plans to branch throughout the state.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to divide into branches or sections.
  2. to adorn with needlework; decorate with embroidery, as in textile fabrics.
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Verb Phrases
  1. branch out, to expand or extend, as business activities, pursuits, interests, etc.: The business is branching out into computers.
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Origin of branch

1250–1300; Middle English bra(u)nche < Anglo-French; Old French branche < Late Latin branca paw, of uncertain origin
Related formsbranch·less, adjectivebranch·like, adjectivein·ter·branch, adjectivemul·ti·branched, adjectiveout·branch, verb (used with object)un·branched, adjectiveun·branch·ing, adjectiveun·der·branch, nounwell-branched, adjective

Synonyms for branch

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Synonym study

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.


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

< French -branche, New Latin -branchia, from Latin branchiae “gills” (see branchia)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for branch

chapter, division, office, section, wing, member, bureau, subsidiary, arm, category, subdivision, extension, classification, annex, portion, dependency, connection, part, derivative, tributary

Examples from the Web for branch

Contemporary Examples of branch

Historical Examples of branch

  • Caricature, by the way, is a branch of Georgian Art which M. Rouquet neglects.

  • Just as he dropped a branch down at her feet, she caught the sound of wheels.

    The Little Colonel

    Annie Fellows Johnston

  • Lieutenant Ford was wounded and a branch of an artery was cut.

  • At this moment, the note of a bird sounded from the branch of a neighboring tree.

    Tanglewood Tales

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Accordingly, Jason took the branch at its word, and lopped it off the tree.

    Tanglewood Tales

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

British Dictionary definitions for branch


  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 parta branch of a deer's antlers
    1. a subdivision or subsidiary section of something larger or more complexbranches of learning; branch of the family
    2. (as modifier)a branch office
  4. US any small stream
  5. maths a section of a curve separated from the rest of the curve by discontinuities or special points
  6. Also called: jump 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
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  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)
  3. to divide or be divided into subsidiaries or offshoots
  4. (intr often foll by off) to diverge from the main way, road, topic, etc
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See also branch out
Derived Formsbranchless, adjectivebranchlike, adjectivebranchy, adjective

Word Origin for branch

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

Word Origin and History for branch


c.1300, braunch, "limb of a tree" (also used of things analogous to it, especially geographic features), from Old French branche "branch, bough, twig; branch of a family" (12c.), from Late Latin branca "footprint," later "a claw, paw," of unknown origin, probably from Gaulish. The connecting notion would be the shape (cf. pedigree). Replaced native bough. Meaning "local office of a business" is first recorded 1817, from earlier sense of "component part of a system" (1690s).

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"send out shoots or new limbs," late 14c., also, of blood vessels, family trees, etc., "to be forked," from branch (n.). Meaning "to spread out from a center, radiate" is from c.1400. Related: Branched; branching.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

branch in Medicine


  1. An offshoot or a division of the main portion of a structure, especially that of a nerve, blood vessel, or lymphatic vessel; a ramus.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with branch


In addition to the idioms beginning with branch

  • branch off
  • branch out

also see:

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