View synonyms for muscle


[ muhs-uhl ]


  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.

    Synonyms: force, might, vigor, power

  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.


/ ˈmʌsəl /


  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. informal.
    intr; often foll by in, on, etc to force one's way (in)


/ mŭsəl /

  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.
  2. Skeletal muscle effects voluntary movement and is made up of bundles of elongated cells (muscle fibers), each of which contains many nuclei.
  3. 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.
  4. Cardiac muscle makes up the muscle of the heart and consists of a meshwork of striated cells.

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Derived Forms

  • ˈmuscly, adjective

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Other Words From

  • muscle·less adjective
  • muscly adjective
  • over·muscled adjective
  • trans·muscle noun
  • un·muscled adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of muscle1

1525–35; < Latin mūsculus literally, little mouse (from fancied resemblance to some muscles), equivalent to mūs mouse + -culus -cle 1

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Word History and Origins

Origin of muscle1

C16: from medical Latin musculus little mouse, from the imagined resemblance of some muscles to mice, from Latin mūs mouse

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Idioms and Phrases

In addition to the idiom beginning with muscle , also see flex one's muscles ; move a muscle .

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Example Sentences

In its first flexing of new muscle, the branch pored over the plans filed just a few years ago by private utilities, looking for inconsistencies or holes.

The alloy contracts like a muscle when heated, and extends once cool.

Hemp is a source of cannabidiol, also known as CBD, the cannabis-derived compound that consumers use for relief from muscle and joint pain, anxiety, and insomnia.

From Quartz

It’s caused by mutations in the gene that makes dystrophin, a protein that serves to rebuild and strengthen muscle fibers in skeletal and cardiac muscles.

“Working with children using our device, I’ve witnessed a physical moment where the brain “clicks” and starts moving the hand rather than focusing on moving the muscles,” LaChappelle said.

Security guards have also been posted to add some muscle (but this has done little to deter vandals in past years).

Companies like Delta, Apple, and Nike flex their political muscle on behalf of gay rights.

The bell tower bellows loudly when a little muscle power is put into it.

When it comes to tangible gifts, the sharing economy really starts to flex its holiday disrupting muscle.

I can see the implant in there, and see where the muscle is snatching that implant up.

The strength of the lion is tremendous, owing to the immense mass of muscle around its jaws, shoulders, and forearms.

The man was accustomed to the French of Englishmen, and withdrew without moving a muscle of his face.

He was a man of gigantic muscle, and seizing the arm of Louis, called aloud to bar the egress.

In this country an unexplained marked eosinophilia warrants examination of a portion of muscle for Trichina spiralis (p. 255).

The second pair show that the transverse processes, from the first to the third, are those into which the muscle is inserted.


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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




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