bran·​chi·​al ˈbraŋ-kē-əl How to pronounce branchial (audio)
: of, relating to, or supplying the gills or associated structures or their embryonic precursors

Examples of branchial in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One of the signs of the condition is the formation of branchial cleft cysts. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 3 Jan. 2024 The skeleton also revealed a larger-than-expected branchial chamber, the area used to cycle water through the gills, suggesting the fish had evolved to linger in oxygen-poor waters while waiting to strike. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 7 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'branchial.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from New Latin branchiālis, from Latin branchia "gills" (borrowed from Greek bránchia, of uncertain origin) + -ālis -al entry 1

Note: Greek bránchia is conventionally taken to be from the base of bránchos "hoarseness, sore throat" (as by Frisk, Griechisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch), though the semantic connection is not entirely self-evident, and bránchos is in its turn linked with brónchos "windpipe, throat," though there is no explanation for the change in vowel. If the glosses brachṓdēs: trachýs ("rough, harsh") and brakías: tracheîs tópous ("rough places") in the lexicon of the Greek grammarian Hesychius are relevant, the set of alternations brak-/brach-/branch- suggests pre-Greek substratum (see E. Furnée, Die wichtigsten Konsonantischen Erscheinungen des Vorgriechischen [Mouton, 1972], pp. 128, 276). In the case of all these words both form and meaning may be affected by folk etymology.

First Known Use

1729, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of branchial was in 1729

Dictionary Entries Near branchial

Cite this Entry

“Branchial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


bran·​chi·​al -kē-əl How to pronounce branchial (audio)
: of or relating to the gills or to parts of the body derived from the embryonic branchial arches and clefts
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