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
At a news conference at the Brooklyn branch Tuesday, Enoch Pratt Free Library CEO Heidi Daniel laid out plans to replace rows of desktop computers with more private booths and rooms. Dillon Mullan, Baltimore Sun, 21 Feb. 2023 Emily in Paris Marketing executive Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) is sent to work at her company's Paris branch in this 2020 hit. Jessica Booth, Peoplemag, 20 Feb. 2023 Free mariachi concert at Chula Vista library Classics 4 Kids is hosting a free family concert series at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Chula Vista Library Civic Center branch, 365 F St. Música de Mariachi will perform a program in Spanish and English. Laura Groch Feb. 19, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Feb. 2023 The complex case dates back to November 2017, when $497 million belonging to The Port Fund was frozen at a branch of Noor Bank in Dubai, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates. Dominic Dudley, Forbes, 24 Jan. 2023 There were plenty of kisses seen between parents and their children at the Lunar New Year celebration, a Sunday afternoon memory maker on Jan. 22 at the Northfield branch of the Winnetka-Northfield Public Library. Karie Angell Luc, Chicago Tribune, 23 Jan. 2023 Visitors can use the workstation at the Kenton County Public Library's Erlanger branch from 9 a.m. to 9 pm. Haadiza Ogwude, The Enquirer, 19 Jan. 2023 This past summer, Chipotle employees at a branch in Michigan formed the first union in the company’s history. Chloe Berger, Fortune, 13 Jan. 2023 Retail worker Caroline Lennon arrived at 6 a.m. Tuesday at a branch of Waterstones in central London to await its opening. Dallas News, 10 Jan. 2023
OnlyGames, for its part, intends to branch into printing trading cards, gamebooks, and eventually entire board games. WIRED, 7 Jan. 2023 Strahan says his family played a role in his interest in his decision to branch into skin care and grooming, too. Jackie Fields, Peoplemag, 7 Sep. 2022 With Bailes’ blessing, UCP began to branch into supporting children with other disabilities. Trevor Fraser,, 12 Aug. 2021 Making electric vehicles would also represent a broadening of Baidu’s ambition to branch into transportation. Sean O'kane, The Verge, 7 Jan. 2021 Actress Frances Fisher went so far as to share multiple posts about Riseborough, at one point addressing the Academy’s actors branch directly and writing a detailed description of the voting process. Sonia Rao, Washington Post, 31 Jan. 2023 The John Deere harvester needs less than a minute to de-branch it and saw it into perfect 8-foot sections, then moves on to the next tree, its trunk marked with spray paint as ready to cut. John Schmid,, 2 Nov. 2022 Some people unhappy with the merge may try to branch off and create their own projects and variations of Ethereum—but anything of the sort will never be Ethereum. Taylor Locke, Fortune, 19 Aug. 2022 But as families grow and branch off, memories are created and brand-new traditions are formed. Jamie Kravitz, Woman's Day, 12 Dec. 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 24 Mar. 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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