[ muhs-uhl ]
See synonyms for: musclemuscledmusclesmuscling on

  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.

  1. muscular strength; brawn: It will take a great deal of muscle to move this box.

  2. power or force, especially of a coercive nature: They put muscle into their policy and sent the marines.

  3. lean meat.

  4. Slang.

    • a hired thug or thugs.

    • a bodyguard or bodyguards: a gangster protected by muscle.

  5. 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.

  1. to strengthen or toughen; put muscle into.

  2. Informal. to accomplish by muscular force: to muscle the partition into place.

  3. 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 mūsmouse + -culus-cle1

Other words for muscle

Other words from muscle

  • mus·cle·less, adjective
  • muscly, adjective
  • o·ver·mus·cled, adjective
  • trans·mus·cle, noun
  • un·mus·cled, adjective

Words Nearby muscle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use muscle in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for muscle


/ (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

  1. strength or force

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

Origin of muscle

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

Derived forms of muscle

  • muscly, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for muscle


[ 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.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.

Other words from muscle

  • muscular adjective

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with 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.