- a tissue composed of cells or fibers, the contraction of which produces movement in the body.
- an organ, composed of muscle tissue, that contracts to produce a particular movement.
- muscular strength; brawn: It will take a great deal of muscle to move this box.
- power or force, especially of a coercive nature: They put muscle into their policy and sent the marines.
- lean meat.
- a hired thug or thugs.
- a bodyguard or bodyguards: a gangster protected by muscle.
- a necessary or fundamental thing, quality, etc.: The editor cut the muscle from the article.
- Informal. to force or compel others to make way for: He muscled his way into the conversation.
- to make more muscular: The dancing lessons muscled her legs.
- to strengthen or toughen; put muscle into.
- Informal. to accomplish by muscular force: to muscle the partition into place.
- Informal. to force or compel, as by threats, promises, influence, or the like: to muscle a bill through Congress.
- Informal. to make one's way by force or fraud (often followed by in or into).
- Informal. (of a machine, engine, or vehicle) being very powerful or capable of high-speed performance: a muscle power saw.
Origin of muscle
Synonyms for muscle
- 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
- (intr; often foll by in, on, etc) informal to force one's way (in)
Word Origin for muscle
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.
- 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.
- 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.
In addition to the idiom beginning with muscle
- muscle in
- flex one's muscles
- move a muscle