1 of 2


often attributive
botany : a natural subdivision of a plant stem
especially : a secondary shoot or stem (such as a bough) arising from a main axis (as of a tree)
pruning the tree's lower branches
a swing mounted on a tree branch
: something that extends from or enters into a main body or source: such as
: a stream that flows into another usually larger stream : tributary
the river's smaller branches
Southern US and Midland US : creek sense 1
: a side road or way
the railroad's branch line
: a slender projection (such as the tine of an antler)
the branches of a menorah
mathematics : a distinctive part of a mathematical curve (see curve entry 3 sense 1a(2))
computers : a part of a computer program executed as a result of a program decision
: a part of a complex body: such as
: a division of a family descending from a particular ancestor
the Iranian branch of the family
: an area of knowledge that may be considered apart from related areas
orthopedics and other branches of medicine
syntax is a branch of linguistics
: a division of an organization
a branch of the armed services
the government's legislative and executive branches
: a separate but dependent part of a central organization
the neighborhood branch of the city library
linguistics : a language group less inclusive than a family (see family entry 1 sense 5c)
the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family
branched adjective
branchless adjective
branchy adjective


2 of 2


branched; branching; branches

intransitive verb

botany : to put forth secondary shoots or stems : to put forth branches (see branch entry 1 sense 1) : ramify
an elm branching out over the rooftop
: to extend in different directions from a main part or point : to spring out (as from a main stem) : diverge
where the spring branches off from the river
: to develop or derive from a source : to be an outgrowth
used with from
poetry that branched from religious prose
: to extend activities
usually used with out
the business is branching out into formal wear
computers : to follow one of two or more parts of a computer program executed as a result of a program decision : to follow one of two or more branches (see branch entry 1 sense 2e)

transitive verb

: to ornament with designs of branches (see branch entry 1 sense 1)
branched velvet
: to divide up : section

Example Sentences

Noun birds singing from the branches of a tree The bank has a new branch in our area. She works at the branch office downtown. Verb The stream branches from the river near their house. threads branched from the center of the spider web
Recent Examples on the Web
Still, the true Los Ang-ularity may not occur until New York gains its very own branch of the ultimate Los Angeles symbol of health and wealth: the upscale organic grocery store Erewhon. Michael M. Grynbaum, New York Times, 5 Jan. 2023 Check with your local branch for hours of operation during the holiday. oregonlive, 29 Dec. 2022 Keep in mind, though, that hours may vary and even if a national chain says it’s open, that doesn’t mean your local branch will be. Chris Morris, Fortune, 24 Dec. 2022 This game is rarely about quality football anyway and more about the pageantry and revelry of cadets and midshipmen standing, bouncing and cheering for their branch. Dan Gelston, ajc, 11 Dec. 2022 But Norton certainly isn’t a one-man branch in the family tree. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, 5 Jan. 2023 The shooting sent the Edmondson Westside High School and a branch of Pratt Library, located across the street, into lockdown briefly while police investigated. Lee O. Sanderlin, Baltimore Sun, 4 Jan. 2023 The Army Rangers, a premier infantry force, is a branch of the elite Special Operations Forces, according to the U.S. Army's website. Stephanie Pagones, Fox News, 4 Jan. 2023 The quake happened on the Calaveras Fault, one of eight major faults in the Bay Area and a branch of the San Andreas Fault line. Natalie Neysa Alund, USA TODAY, 20 Dec. 2022
ReCode plans to branch out to oncology and central nervous system treatments, as well as alternative forms of drug administration like a nebulizer, or inhaler, for lung diseases, or injection into spinal fluid to directly target the brain. Dallas News, 29 June 2022 Murray wants to branch out, to do for Elvis what Jack has done for Hitler — create an entire curriculum around him. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 26 Dec. 2022 In a surprising shift from previous variants, omicron didn’t branch off of the delta variant, but instead a different variant that researchers estimate emerged in mid-2020. Dallas News, 28 Apr. 2022 Secondly, over time, antibodies branch out and target different parts of the virus as an insurance policy against mutations the virus is generating. Alice Park, Time, 13 Dec. 2022 Oenophiles looking to branch out will love the personalized selections in these monthly boxes. Sophie Dweck, Town & Country, 24 Nov. 2022 The Bulls typically get involved in school programs in Chicago but are looking to branch out into the nearby areas, Malik Shaw, a volunteer for the Chicago Bulls alumni relations, said. George Wiebe, Chicago Tribune, 23 Nov. 2022 From here riders can branch out to more natural terrain by hopping on one of several connector trails to the loop around Lake Atalanta. Josh Patterson, Outside Online, 22 May 2020 By sophomore year, students can branch out into other areas of the music school or the university in general to broaden their education. Jeff Bond, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'branch.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French branche, from Late Latin branca paw

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of branch was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near branch

Cite this Entry

“Branch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a natural division of a plant stem (as a bough growing from a trunk or twig from a bough)
: something extending from a main line or source
river branch
a railroad branch
: a separate or subordinate division or part of a central system
executive branch of the government
a branch of a bank
branched adjective
branchless adjective


2 of 2 verb
: to send out branches : spread or separate into branches
a great elm branches over the yard
: to spring out from a main body or line : diverge
streets branching off the highway
: to extend activities
the business is branching out all over the state

Medical Definition


: something that extends from or enters into a main body or source
a branch of an artery
: an area of knowledge that may be considered apart from related areas
pathology is a branch of medicine
branch intransitive verb
branched adjective

Legal Definition


: a part of a complex body: as
: one of the three main divisions of the U.S. or a state government see also executive, judiciary, legislature
: a division of a business or organization
an insurer's branch office
see also branch bank at bank

More from Merriam-Webster on branch

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