Meaning of BRANCH in English


I. ˈbranch, -aa(ə)-, -ai-, -ȧ- noun

( -es )

Usage: often attributive

Etymology: Middle English braunche, from Old French branche, from Late Latin branca paw

1. : a stem growing from the trunk or from a limb of a tree ; specifically : a shoot or secondary stem growing from the main stem

2. : something that extends from, enters into, or is an offshoot of a main body or source: as


(1) : a stream that flows into another usually larger stream : affluent , tributary

(2) South and Midland : creek 2

(3) : an effluent stream

a delta branch

(4) : a reentrant stream : by-channel , anabranch

(5) : a fork of a tidal river (as of the Severn river in Maryland)

b. : a side road or way

a logging railroad whose branches spread through thousands of square miles — American Guide Series: Minnesota


(1) : a slender projection (as the tine of an antler or arm of a candelabrum)

(2) : a rib in Gothic vaulting ; especially : one of the smaller ribs in a complicated vault

(3) : either side of a horseshoe

(4) : a pipe joined to and diverging from the barrel of another pipe ; also : a forked pipe connection

d. archaic : scion , descendant


(1) mathematics : one of the portions of a curve (as a hyperbola)

(2) : either of the two partial series of lines in a spectral band that proceed in opposite directions from the zero line of the band

3. : a part of a complex body: as

a. : a division of a family descending from a particular ancestor as distinguished from those descending from his relations

the Connecticut branch of an old Boston family

b. : an area of knowledge that may be considered or studied apart from related areas

pathology is a branch of medicine


(1) : a section, department, or division of an organization

a branch of the armed service

the two branches of Congress

(2) : a subordinate or dependent part of a central system or organization

a neighborhood branch of a city library

a branch bank in a suburb


(1) : a primary division of the animal kingdom — see phylum

(2) in the classification of languages of the eastern hemisphere : a number of related languages forming a category less inclusive than a family or subfamily

the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family

4. : a warrant or commission given to a pilot authorizing him to pilot ships in certain waters

a branch pilot

II. verb

( -ed/-ing/-es )

Etymology: Middle English braunchen, from braunche, n.

intransitive verb

1. : to put or hold forth branches : ramify

a great elm branching over the roof

2. : to spring off or out (as from a main stem or root) : diverge

streets branching from either side of the highway

— often used with off

his mind kept branching off into the contemplation of silly things — Liam O'Flaherty

3. : to become derived : be an outgrowth — used with from

poetry that branched from Baudelaire — Douglas Stewart

4. : to extend activities : enlarge or develop by taking up something different or by adding on something new — usually used with out

car manufacturers branched out into tank and cannon manufacture

transitive verb

1. : to ornament with designs of branches or foliage

branch velvet

2. : to divide up : arrange , section

branching his treatment of the problem into three equal parts


ramify , divaricate , fork , furcate , bifurcate : branch (often used with off, from, out ) is applicable to any developing or projecting comparable to the sending out of a branch by a tree or to a split growth comparable to the main fork of a tree trunk

roads branching off the main highways

little streams branching from the river

branching out from building houses to selling real estate

the river branches to form the various delta channels

ramify may suggest an intricate dividing or subdividing, sometimes to the extent of interconnecting, permeating, or affecting a whole area

the system of arteries and veins ramifying over the whole body

an inquiry into the nature of the genres and the boundaries of the arts ramifies out in every direction — Irving Babbitt

a ramifying network of social relations, with every chance that its force may be multiplied or deflected in the devious process of transmission — Max Lerner & Edwin Mims

divaricate is a technical term indicating splitting into two main branches

elm tree trunks often divaricate

fork indicates a splitting or development at a specific point into what may be likened to tines or branches

the river forks forming an island

the main road forks into two smaller roads

furcate , now uncommon, and bifurcate , explicitly indicating a division into two, are more learned synonyms for fork

though Islam bifurcated into the sects of the Sunnis and the Shi'is as the Christian Church bifurcated into the Catholic and Orthodox Churches — A.J.Toynbee

the inevitable moment when the channel bifurcated and a choice had to be made — C.S.Forester

III. noun

: a part of a computer program executed as a result of a program decision

IV. intransitive verb

: to follow one of two or more branches (as in a computer program)

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.