From Middle English branche, braunche, bronche, from Old French branche, branke, from Late Latin branca ("footprint”, later also “paw, claw") (whence Middle High German pranke, German Pranke), of unknown origin.
Perhaps of Celtic origin, from a hypothetical Gaulish *vranca, from Proto-Indo-European. If so, then Indo-European cognates include Old Norse vró ("angle, corner"), Lithuanian rankà ("hand"), Old Church Slavonic рѫка ("hand"), Albanian rangë ("yardwork").
The verb is from Middle English braunchen, from the noun.
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