bran·​chi·​al | \ ˈbraŋ-kē-əl How to pronounce branchial (audio) \

Definition of branchial

: of, relating to, or supplying the gills or associated structures or their embryonic precursors

First Known Use of branchial

1729, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for branchial

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.

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The first known use of branchial was in 1729

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branchial basket

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Cite this Entry

“Branchial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for branchial


bran·​chi·​al | \ -kē-əl How to pronounce branchial (audio) \

Medical Definition of branchial

: of or relating to the gills or to parts of the body derived from the embryonic branchial arches and clefts


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