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 from poetry that branched from religious prose
4 : to extend activities usually used with out the 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 branch (audio) \ adjective
branchless \ ˈbranch-​ləs How to pronounce branch (audio) \ adjective
branchy \ ˈbran-​chē How to pronounce branch (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 This happened in 2003, when eight states and parts of Canada lost power after a tree branch near Cleveland touched a power line. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, "The polar vortex has left millions of Texans without power. Could the same happen to Hoosiers?," 19 Feb. 2021 Part of the complex was renamed the National Center for Toxicological Research and became a branch of the federal Food & Drug Administration. Rex Nelson, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | REX NELSON: Pine Bluff rising," 15 Feb. 2021 Scientists can track mutations as they are passed down through a lineage, which is a branch of the viral family tree. New York Times, "Coronavirus Variants and Mutations," 15 Feb. 2021 The system compiles data gleaned from at least 44 states agencies and their branch offices across every province in China to create one centralized list. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Blacklist vs. ‘redlist’: What to know about China’s new corporate social credit score," 10 Dec. 2020 Employees of company’s branch offices are all still working remotely during the pandemic, and employees at the corporate office are working from home 50% of the time to limit the number of people physically in the office, said spokesman Steve Smith. Dom Difurio, Dallas News, "Ebby Halliday moves HQ, choosing ‘deliberately’ smaller space at Legacy Business Park in Plano," 2 Dec. 2020 They have been held by the Yantian branch of the Shenzhen Public Security Bureau, and were formally arrested in October. Washington Post, "Families receive letters from Hong Kong detainees in China, but doubt the contents," 20 Nov. 2020 The newest, high-performance military aircraft seen overhead and on the ground could be in use by any branch of the military. Paula Allen,, "Air shows keep San Antonio looking up to local military," 14 Nov. 2020 Without the Senate, a Biden presidency could refocus the spotlight on climate policies controlled by the executive branch. Gernot Wagner,, "What Biden Can Really Do on Climate, Even Without the Senate," 6 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb All districts will branch into a regional that will be played at Twinsburg instead of the normal location at Canton McKinley’s fieldhouse. Matt Goul, cleveland, "All roads run through Lutheran East? OHSAA Division III boys basketball district tournament preview," 22 Feb. 2021 The Pittsburgh Steelers tight end’s urge to branch out beyond the football field — one that bubbled for years — came to a head during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic., "Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes out of concussion protocol, is cleared to play against Bills," 22 Jan. 2021 In addition to their Netflix deal, Spotify podcast, and charitable work, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may branch out into fiction writing. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Wants to Write a Novel Next, According to a Royal Source," 27 Dec. 2020 At this point, the study will branch out to include people with a variety of health conditions, not just those who are in great shape. Los Angeles Times, "The FDA didn’t ‘approve’ Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s why," 12 Dec. 2020 With such a strong foundation in place, the team at PJ’s is not afraid to branch out and try new flavors. Amanda Mcelfresh,, "Gambit Promo: 40th Anniversary Reader Stories (presented by PJ's Coffee of New Orleans)," 15 Dec. 2020 Now, Capel is able to branch out and do her own thing, but still continues to partner with Bedrock. Chanel Stitt, Detroit Free Press, "Dose Collective puts Detroit brands front and center on Woodward Avenue," 12 Dec. 2020 Kristin Chenoweth would be a great Dolly for just the period of you deciding to leave The Porter Wagoner Show and branch out on your own. Rupaul Charles, Marie Claire, "Hark! The Herald Dolly Sings," 7 Dec. 2020 More than ever, players seem willing to branch out into novel, new at-home experiences. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "Meet the new generation of puzzle-makers bringing mystery to your door," 1 Dec. 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

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Branch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for branch



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 branch (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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