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 & Midland : 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 Devin hid six of his other siblings in the bushes, relative Kendra Lee Miller wrote on Facebook, and covered them with branches before heading toward home. Adrianna Rodriguez And Kristin Lam, azcentral, "Mexico ambush: Suspect arrested in connection with 'incomprehensible' attack on family," 6 Nov. 2019 The teenager hid his siblings in the brush and covered them with branches before embarking on a six-hour trek back to La Mora, according to Kendra Lee Miller, the sister-in-law of Rhonita Miller, who described the ordeal in a lengthy Facebook post. Brittany Shammas, Washington Post, "Boy saw mother, siblings die in Mexico massacre, then walked hours for help, family says," 6 Nov. 2019 Many of the branches are at about perfect height for crosscutting, so turn these into firewood-size pieces working from the tip to the trunk. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "The Ultimate Guide To Cutting and Splitting Firewood," 6 Nov. 2019 The movement also spread as far as Australia and South Africa, with affiliate branches in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'White Riot': Film Review | London 2019," 1 Nov. 2019 After more than a week of voting, with some local branches voting to reject, the news poured in that the contract had passed. Erin Kirkland, New York Times, "40 Days, Thousands of Jobs: The G.M. Strike From the Picket Lines," 29 Oct. 2019 Soon, the Portland skyline will lose its brilliant hues and the city will be left with bare branches, plenty of rain and wintry, silver-grey clouds. Emily Goodykoontz | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Portland is at peak fall foliage," 20 Oct. 2019 Another aggravating factor listed in the motion is the close proximity of other mobile homes and a large tree with branches hanging over the Newport trailer and the one next door. Linda Vanderwerf / Forum News Service, Twin Cities, "Minn. man poured gasoline on daughter’s kittens before lighting fire that killed her, prosecutors say," 12 Oct. 2019 Ornamental trees are typically allowed to grow freely for several years, with lower branches left intact to help grow a sturdy trunk. Pam Peirce,, "Planning to grow fruit trees? Start here," 11 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Even though McKinsey branched out into higher education several years ago, the firm’s reputation has primarily been connected to corporate work, according to Lawrence Cunningham, a professor of corporate governance at George Washington University. azcentral, "UA's $14-million gamble: Consultant gave pricey advice to devise strategic plan," 9 Nov. 2019 Lately, however, those lines have been blurring, with even the esteemed Juilliard School branching out into the cinematic arts (or at least offering a summer seminar). Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "Top 25 Music Schools for Composing for Film and TV, Ranked," 7 Nov. 2019 That fragmentation gave rise to more violence and, increasingly, the cartels started branching out into other crimes like extortion, fuel theft and kidnapping. Rafael Romo, CNN, "The Mormon massacre in Mexico hits home," 6 Nov. 2019 Although the brand is currently footwear-focused, two handbags have been released and there is discussion about eventually branching into other categories. Lindzi Scharf, Los Angeles Times, "For her second act, Jimmy Choo co-founder Tamara Mellon thinks outside the shoe box," 4 Oct. 2019 The conversation began with the proposal to simply use her wallpaper in the Tokyo store, but quickly branched into creating menswear. Kate Mcgregor, ELLE Decor, "A Fun New Clothing Collection from ED A-Lister Sheila Bridges," 12 July 2019 Kraft Heinz has been slower than many of its other traditional rivals to try and branch out into newer categories. Paul R. La Monica, CNN, "Kraft Heinz stock tumbles after its second-biggest investor sells a big chunk of its stock," 17 Sep. 2019 In addition to creating such items as silver tea sets, butter boats and spoons, Revere demonstrated his entrepreneurial bent by branching out into copperplate engraving and even dentistry. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Exploring Paul Revere’s Legacy Beyond His Famed Midnight Ride," 12 Sep. 2019 For Edelman, branching out was not an impetuous decision. Ben Baskin,, "Julian Edelman Is Back on Top and Ready to Take Over the World," 3 July 2019

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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Statistics for branch

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for branch

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

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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

What made you want to look up branch? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to speed up the process or progress of

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