Pronunciation: (branch, bränch), [key]
1. a division or subdivision of the stem or axis of a tree, shrub, or other plant.
2. a limb, offshoot, or ramification of any main stem: the branches of a deer's antlers.
3. any member or part of a body or system; a section or subdivision: the various branches of learning.
4. a local operating division of a business, library, or the like.
5. a line of family descent stemming from a particular ancestor, as distinguished from some other line or lines from the same stock; a division of a family.
6. a tributary stream or any stream that is not a large river or a bayou.
7. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S.See branch water (def. 2).
8. Ling.(in the classification of related languages within a family) a category of a lower order than a subfamily and of a higher order than a subbranch or a group, as the Germanic branch of Indo-European. Cf. group (def. 4a).
9. Computers.a point in a computer program where the computer selects one of two or more instructions to execute, according to some criterion.
10. Naut.a warrant or license permitting a pilot to navigate in certain waters.
1. to put forth branches; spread in branches.
2. to divide into separate parts or subdivisions; diverge: The main road branches off to the left.
3. to expand or extend, as business activities: The bank has plans to branch throughout the state.
1. to divide into branches or sections.
2. to adorn with needlework; decorate with embroidery, as in textile fabrics.
3. branch out, to expand or extend, as business activities, pursuits, interests, etc.: The business is branching out into computers.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.