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

Synonyms for muscle

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


Examples from the Web for muscle

Contemporary Examples of muscle

Historical Examples of muscle

  • In a swerve he almost stopped, every muscle of his big body trembling in affright.

    Thoroughbreds

    W. A. Fraser

  • The tall son of Hanover was lean of flesh, but gross in muscle.

    Thoroughbreds

    W. A. Fraser

  • "Ah, but he has mind as well as muscle," put in Mr. Stewart.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • There was some tension of mind or muscle that kept sleep far from him.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • She came up straight and tall, a concluded resolution in every muscle.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown


British Dictionary definitions for muscle

muscle

noun

a tissue composed of bundles of elongated cells capable of contraction and relaxation to produce movement in an organ or part
an organ composed of muscle tissue
strength or force

verb

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

Word Origin for muscle

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 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.

v.

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

muscle in Medicine

muscle

[mŭsəl]

n.

A tissue consisting predominantly of contractile cells and classified as skeletal, cardiac, or smooth, the last lacking transverse striations characteristic of the first two.
Any of the contractile organs of the body by which movements of the various organs and parts are effected, and whose fibers are usually attached at each extremity to a bone or other structure by a tendon.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

muscle in Science

muscle

[mŭsəl]

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 muscle

muscle

In addition to the idiom beginning with muscle

  • muscle in

also see:

  • flex one's muscles
  • move a muscle
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.