BRANCH (from the Fr. branche, late Lat. branca, an animal's paw), a limb of a tree; hence any offshoot, e.g. of a river, railway, etc., of a deer's antlers, of a family or genealogical tree, and generally a subdivision or department, as in "a branch of learning." The phrase, to destroy "root and branch," meaning to destroy utterly, taken originally from Malachi iv. 1, was made famous in 1641 by the so-called "Root and Branch" Bill and Petition for the abolition of episcopal government, in which petition occurred the sentence, "That the said government, with all its dependencies, roots and branches, be destroyed." Among technical senses of the word "branch" are: the certificate of proficiency given to pilots by Trinity House; and in siege-craft a length of trench forming part of a zigzag approach.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)