bra·​chi·​ate | \ ˈbrā-kē-ˌāt How to pronounce brachiate (audio) \
brachiated; brachiating

Definition of brachiate

intransitive verb

: to progress by swinging from hold to hold by the arms a brachiating gibbon

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Other Words from brachiate

brachiation \ ˌbrā-​kē-​ˈā-​shən How to pronounce brachiate (audio) \ noun
brachiator \ ˈbrā-​kē-​ˌā-​tər How to pronounce brachiate (audio) \ noun

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Certain members of the ape family, such as the gibbon, have the ability to propel themselves by grasping hold of an overhead tree branch (or other projection) and swinging the body forward. (Chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans are less likely to travel in this manner, due to the weight of their bodies; when they do, it is only for very short distances.) The word for this action, brachiate, derives from bracchium, the Latin word for "arm." Brachiate shares etymological ancestors with such words as bracelet (an ornamental band or chain worn around the wrist) and brachiopod (a category of marine organisms with armlike feeding organs called lophophores). Another relative is pretzel. That word's German root, Brezel, is related to the Latin brachiatus, meaning "having branches like arms."

First Known Use of brachiate

1916, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of brachiate was in 1916

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Dictionary Entries Near brachiate

brachial plexus



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Cite this Entry

“Brachiate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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