Definition of brachiate
- a brachiating gibbon
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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.''
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