a tendon.
Often sinews. the source of strength, power, or vigor: the sinews of the nation.
strength; power; resilience: a man of great moral sinew.

verb (used with object)

to furnish with sinews; strengthen, as by sinews.

Origin of sinew

before 900; Middle English; Old English sinu (nominative), sinuwe (genitive); cognate with Dutch zenuw, German Sehne, Old Norse sin; akin to Sanskrit snāva sinew
Related formssin·ew·less, adjectiveun·sin·ewed, adjectiveun·sin·ew·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for sinew

tendon, vigor, potency, force, power, vitality, muscle, thew

Examples from the Web for sinew

Contemporary Examples of sinew

  • But I personally started to feel disrespected, that that caused me—because of my heart, my sinew—to overreact.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Rick Sanchez Licks His Wounds

    Adam Hanft

    January 9, 2011

  • The butcher sawed excruciatingly slowly through bone and sinew.

    The Daily Beast logo
    From Bullets to Ballet

    Sebastian Rich

    October 16, 2010

Historical Examples of sinew

  • I strained a sinew on the day that I slew the three men at Castelnau.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The doctrine of Laissez-Faire is the sinew of her policy toward the European states.

    The Arena


  • The bone and sinew is in Africa—we wish to give it direction.

  • He was small of person, but every sinew in his wiry frame was of steel.


    Maurus Jokai

  • Small as the old man was, he was all sinew and muscle; his clutch was like that of a vice.

    The Three Midshipmen

    W.H.G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for sinew



anatomy another name for tendon
(often plural)
  1. a source of strength or power
  2. a literary word for muscle
Derived Formssinewless, adjective

Word Origin for sinew

Old English sionu; related to Old Norse sin, Old Saxon sinewa, Old High German senawa sinew, Lettish pasainis string
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 sinew

Old English seonowe, oblique form of nominative sionu "sinew," from Proto-Germanic *senawo (cf. Old Saxon sinewa, Old Norse sina, Old Frisian sine, Middle Dutch senuwe, Dutch zenuw, Old High German senawa, German Sehne), from PIE root *sai- "to tie, bind" (cf. Sanskrit snavah "sinew," Avestan snavar, Irish sin "chain").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sinew in Medicine




A tendon.
Vigorous strength; muscular power.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.