Definition of brachiate in US English:



[no object]
  • (of certain apes) move by using the arms to swing from branch to branch.

    ‘the gibbons brachiate energetically across their enclosure’
    • ‘For the gibbon, the only truly arm-swinging primate, the arms are long and flexible, and the legs, short and reduced - basically to get them out of the way as the owner brachiates through the trees.’
    • ‘Here we see the elusive and shy marsh gibbon, brachiating through the sphagnum swamps.’
    • ‘But whereas my distant ancestors were brachiating primates hastily adapted for lives on open plains, hers were dedicated hunters, perhaps forest-dwelling quadrupeds who - God knows how or when - began to use tools.’
    • ‘He watched Kitter brachiate from tree to tree in the hazy air.’
    • ‘Humans are descended from apes, brachiating creatures who are at home hanging from branches.’


  • 1Branched, especially having widely spread paired branches on alternate sides.

    • ‘Isidia are extensions of the surface of the thallus and may be cylindrical, globular, brachiate (branched) or lobula (lobe-like).’
    • ‘Maple trees are brachiate.’
    1. 1.1 Having arms.
      • ‘Others have maintained that the earliest brachiate echinoderms had only three arms.’
      • ‘It is a discussion of the classification and relations of the brachiate crinoids.’


Mid 18th century (originally in the sense ‘having paired branches’): from Latin brachium ‘arm’ + -ate.