• synonyms


[muhs-uh l]
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  1. a tissue composed of cells or fibers, the contraction of which produces movement in the body.
  2. an organ, composed of muscle tissue, that contracts to produce a particular movement.
  3. muscular strength; brawn: It will take a great deal of muscle to move this box.
  4. power or force, especially of a coercive nature: They put muscle into their policy and sent the marines.
  5. lean meat.
  6. Slang.
    1. a hired thug or thugs.
    2. a bodyguard or bodyguards: a gangster protected by muscle.
  7. a necessary or fundamental thing, quality, etc.: The editor cut the muscle from the article.
verb (used with object), mus·cled, mus·cling.
  1. Informal. to force or compel others to make way for: He muscled his way into the conversation.
  2. to make more muscular: The dancing lessons muscled her legs.
  3. to strengthen or toughen; put muscle into.
  4. Informal. to accomplish by muscular force: to muscle the partition into place.
  5. Informal. to force or compel, as by threats, promises, influence, or the like: to muscle a bill through Congress.
verb (used without object), mus·cled, mus·cling.
  1. Informal. to make one's way by force or fraud (often followed by in or into).
  1. Informal. (of a machine, engine, or vehicle) being very powerful or capable of high-speed performance: a muscle power saw.

Origin of muscle

1525–35; < Latin mūsculus literally, little mouse (from fancied resemblance to some muscles), equivalent to mūs mouse + -culus -cle1
Related formsmus·cle·less, adjectivemus·cly, adjectiveo·ver·mus·cled, adjectivetrans·mus·cle, nounun·mus·cled, adjective


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3. power, vigor, might, force.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for muscled

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He's not so large or tall, but quick and springy, and muscled like a panther.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • He stood full six feet in his socks, and he was broad and muscled in proportion.

  • His small body might have been put together out of muscled vines.

    When the Owl Cries

    Paul Bartlett

  • Under that muscled body of his he was a mass of quivering sensibilities.

    Martin Eden

    Jack London

  • Maren was too much in her muscled height for the bird-like creature.

British Dictionary definitions for muscled


  1. a tissue composed of bundles of elongated cells capable of contraction and relaxation to produce movement in an organ or part
  2. an organ composed of muscle tissue
  3. strength or force
  1. (intr; often foll by in, on, etc) informal to force one's way (in)
Derived Formsmuscly, adjective

Word Origin

C16: from medical Latin musculus little mouse, from the imagined resemblance of some muscles to mice, from Latin mūs mouse
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for muscled


"having muscles (of a particular type)," 1640s, from muscle (n.).



late 14c., from Middle French muscle "muscle, sinew" (14c.) and directly from Latin musculus "a muscle," literally "little mouse," diminutive of mus "mouse" (see mouse (n.)).

So called because the shape and movement of some muscles (notably biceps) were thought to resemble mice. The analogy was made in Greek, too, where mys is both "mouse" and "muscle," and its comb. form gives the medical prefix myo-. Cf. also Old Church Slavonic mysi "mouse," mysica "arm;" German Maus "mouse; muscle," Arabic 'adalah "muscle," 'adal "field mouse." In Middle English, lacerte, from the Latin word for "lizard," also was used as a word for a muscle.

Musclez & lacertez bene one selfe þing, Bot þe muscle is said to þe fourme of mouse & lacert to þe fourme of a lizard. [Guy de Chauliac, "Grande Chirurgie," c.1425]

Hence muscular and mousy are relatives, and a Middle English word for "muscular" was lacertous, "lizardy." Figurative sense of "force, violence, threat of violence" is 1930, American English. Muscle car "hot rod" is from 1969.



1913, "to accomplish by strength," from muscle (n.). Related: Muscled; muscling. To muscle in is 1929 in underworld slang.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

muscled in Medicine

abdominal external oblique muscle

  1. A muscle with origin from the fifth to twelfth ribs, with insertion into the anterior lateral lip of the iliac crest, the inguinal ligament, and the anterior layer of the sheath of the rectus muscle of the abdomen, with nerve supply from the ventral branches of the lower thoracic nerves, and whose action diminishes the capacity of the abdomen and draws the chest down.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

muscled in Science


  1. A body tissue composed of sheets or bundles of cells that contract to produce movement or increase tension. Muscle cells contain filaments made of the proteins actin and myosin, which lie parallel to each other. When a muscle is signaled to contract, the actin and myosin filaments slide past each other in an overlapping pattern.Skeletal muscle effects voluntary movement and is made up of bundles of elongated cells (muscle fibers), each of which contains many nuclei.Smooth muscle provides the contractile force for the internal organs and is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Smooth muscle cells are spindle-shaped and each contains a single nucleus.Cardiac muscle makes up the muscle of the heart and consists of a meshwork of striated cells.
Related formsmuscular adjective
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with muscled


In addition to the idiom beginning with muscle

, also see


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.