noun, often attributive
\ ˈbranch How to pronounce branch (audio) \

Definition of branch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 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
2 : something that extends from or enters into a main body or source: such as
a(1) : a stream that flows into another usually larger stream : tributary the river's smaller branches
(2) Southern US and Midland US : creek sense 1
b : a side road or way the railroad's branch line
c : a slender projection (such as the tine of an antler) the branches of a menorah
d mathematics : a distinctive part of a mathematical curve (see curve entry 3 sense 1a(2))
e computers : a part of a computer program executed as a result of a program decision
3 : a part of a complex body: such as
a : a division of a family descending from a particular ancestor the Iranian branch of the family
b : an area of knowledge that may be considered apart from related areas orthopedics and other branches of medicine syntax is a branch of linguistics
c(1) : a division of an organization a branch of the armed services the government's legislative and executive branches
(2) : a separate but dependent part of a central organization the neighborhood branch of the city library
d 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; branching; branches

Definition of branch (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 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
2 : 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
3 : to develop or derive from a source : to be an outgrowth used with frompoetry that branched from religious prose
4 : to extend activities usually used with outthe business is branching out into formal wear
5 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

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

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Other Words from branch


branched \ ˈbrancht How to pronounce branched (audio) \ adjective
branchless \ ˈbranch-​ləs How to pronounce branchless (audio) \ adjective
branchy \ ˈbran-​chē How to pronounce branchy (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for branch

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of branch in a Sentence

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Families can call their closest library branch for meal pickup times. Julie Washington, cleveland, "Cleveland Public Library branch reopenings set for Aug. 24 with social distancing, less computer time," 6 Aug. 2020 That’s when work was completed on the library system’s current main branch on Loyola Avenue. Mike Scott,, "The rise and fall of New Orleans’ long-lost main library at Lee Circle," 4 Aug. 2020 Khorasan Province branch, which operates primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan, claimed responsibility soon after the assault began. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Hundreds of inmates still on the run after deadly ISIS bombing and jailbreak in Afghanistan," 3 Aug. 2020 Sometimes there would be an artistic element at the front — a branch, a snake — that served as a stabilizing crutch. John Kelly, Washington Post, "How did Clark Mills finesse Jackson’s horse? The answer hangs in the balance.," 11 July 2020 In Denver, patrons will have to schedule an appointment for curbside service by visiting the library’s website or calling their neighborhood branch. John Aguilar, The Denver Post, "Denver Public Library opens for curbside service — finally," 7 July 2020 That will entail root-and-branch campaign finance reform, an end to voter suppression, new defenses against foreign interference in elections, and reining in the digital disinformation engines. David Rothkopf, The New York Review of Books, "‘The Most Ignorant and Unfit’: What Made America’s Worst Ever Leader?," 3 July 2020 Unlike the federal judges who hear civil and criminal cases, the immigration judges don't belong to a separate, independent branch of the government. Daniel Connolly, USA TODAY, "Amid COVID-19, Trump administration keeps immigration courts open, putting judges, lawyers and immigrants at risk," 2 July 2020 Viruses, including Marburg and Ebola, have been found to hijack filopodia, forcing them to grow longer, branch, and ferry virus particles into their neighbors. Gregory Barber, Wired, "Old Drugs Could Reveal a New Way to Attack the Coronavirus," 27 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Rita Hills, branch out by tasting the Santa Maria Valley with a sip of the Dierberg Vineyard Chardonnay. Matt Kettmann,, "Dierberg: making world-class wines from classic grapes," 25 June 2020 The winning designer’s collection, produced by Lands’ End, will be available to branch employees in early 2021. Nandi Howard, Essence, "ESSENCE Partners With Chase And Lands' End On Banking In Style," 18 June 2020 In particular, Google’s cable named Equiano (after 18th century Nigerian writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano), will have 20 times the capacity of the most recent projects in the region, and will branch out first on Nigeria’s coast. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Nigeria’s new broadband access plan is doomed to fail unless it fixes a perennial problem," 4 June 2020 The result was less a family tree, branching and widening, than a convoluted web. The Economist, "A breed apart The Habsburgs’ marriages consolidated lands as well as faulty genes," 28 May 2020 Their two roommates — a couple — were hoping for a quieter lifestyle, so the two singles decided to branch out and find a two-bedroom place. Nina Reyes, New York Times, "A New Lease With More Space Than They Needed," 9 May 2020 The Giants had intended for Dubon to branch out this year and play some center field, and his reaction was typical: no sweat. John Shea,, "Giants’ Mauricio Dubon candid about his lofty goals: ‘I love the spotlight’," 29 Mar. 2020 One thread branched into another, and then another. Michael Smith, Fortune, "How doctors are using social media to develop coronavirus treatments in real time," 24 Mar. 2020 There are half cut off suckers visible in your photo and many of them are now branched and leafing out. oregonlive, "Suckers from grafted rose need a trim: Ask an expert," 22 Mar. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of branch


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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

History and Etymology for branch

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for branch

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for branch

Last Updated

11 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Branch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for branch


How to pronounce branch (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of branch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a part of a tree that grows out from the trunk
: a local office or shop of a company or organization
: a major part of a government



English Language Learners Definition of branch (Entry 2 of 2)

: to divide into smaller parts : to separate into branches


\ ˈbranch How to pronounce branch (audio) \

Kids Definition of branch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a part of a tree that grows out from the trunk or from a main division of the trunk
2 : something extending from a main line or body like a branch a branch of a railroad
3 : a division or subordinate part of something a branch of government The bank opened a new branch.

Other Words from branch

branched \ ˈbrancht \ adjective


branched; branching

Kids Definition of branch (Entry 2 of 2)

: to spread or divide into smaller or attached parts : send out a branch It was a long corridor and it branched into other corridors …— Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden


\ ˈbranch How to pronounce branch (audio) \

Medical Definition of branch

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

Other Words from branch

branch intransitive verb
branched \ ˈbrancht How to pronounce branched (audio) \ adjective

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Legal Definition of branch

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

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Comments on branch

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