noun, often attributive
mus·​cle | \ ˈmə-səl \

Definition of muscle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a body tissue consisting of long cells that contract when stimulated and produce motion
b : an organ that is essentially a mass of muscle tissue attached at either end to a fixed point and that by contracting moves or checks the movement of a body part
2a : muscular strength : brawn
b : effective strength : power political muscle


muscled; muscling\ ˈmə-​s(ə-​)liŋ \

Definition of muscle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to move or force by or as if by muscular effort muscled him out of office

intransitive verb

: to make one's way by brute strength or by force

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Examples of muscle in a Sentence


the muscles of the arm an athlete with bulging muscles He pulled a muscle playing tennis. She has a strained muscle in her back. She started lifting weights to build muscle. She doesn't have the muscle to lift something so heavy.


They muscled the heavy boxes onto the truck. They muscled the furniture up the stairs. He muscled through the crowd. They muscled into line behind us.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Many key poses and postures in yoga force us to strengthen those muscles. Laura Schwecherl, SELF, "Why All Runners Should Consider Adding Yoga to Their Routines," 15 Jan. 2019 Female Marines were injured at more than six times the rate of men during preliminary training—unsurprising, since men’s higher testosterone levels produce stronger bones and muscles. Heather Mac Donald, WSJ, "Women Don’t Belong in Combat Units," 13 Jan. 2019 The revolutionary machine known to relieve tight muscles and tough-to-get knots is now lighter and better at preventing injuries than ever before. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "5 Easy Ways to Jump-Start Your Fitness Goals in 2019," 12 Jan. 2019 Having communication at your disposal all the time actually undermines that muscle. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "“I wanted to make it a beautiful disaster”: Pawel Pawlikowski on his new film Cold War," 21 Dec. 2018 Four months of bedrest had left me with atrophied muscles and a body overloaded with ice cream, antibiotics, and painkillers—this would be great test of Espace Chenot’s efficacy. Irena Medavoy, Town & Country, "How to Detox Like a Hollywood Power Player," 5 Nov. 2018 Ryan then had to lose 20 pounds of muscle during his Christmas vacation and shave off his older Noah beard to transform into the younger, fresh-faced Noah who wooed Allie on the ferris wheel. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "16 Shocking Facts About "The Notebook" That Will Change How You See the Movie," 28 Nov. 2018 For example, institute investigators developed a bodysuit called a Regent, which resists the movement of muscles and helps to strengthen them. Elizabeth Howell,, "Touring Where the Mars-500 'Astronauts' Pretended to Take a Red Planet Journey," 11 July 2018 After a day and a half, he was released, and now only has a red entry mark and a lot of sore muscles to show for his brush with danger, KMGH reported. Scott Berson, miamiherald, "Girlfriend revives boyfriend after lightning strike: 'You’re not allowed to leave yet'," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The story changes immediately, and the GOP receives zero credit for muscling through Kavanaugh. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "How potential government shutdown could throw wrench into Brett Kavanaugh confirmation," 31 July 2018 The Cavaliers guard had just made a crucial play, muscling Warriors forward Kevin Durant out of the way to claim an offensive rebound off teammate George Hill’s missed free throw. Ben Golliver,, "Anatomy of a Blunder: Inside J.R. Smith's Devastating Game 1 Mistake," 1 June 2018 And the migrants’ interest was agriculture, not muscling a netted sturgeon out of a whirlpool. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "When Farmers and Foragers First Met," 24 Oct. 2018 That’s your heart muscles constricting, which can be [fixed] by simple communication. Kate Branch, Vogue, "Meet the Ayurvedic Facialist with a Massage Technique So Good, You May Cry," 14 Sep. 2018 On Thursday morning, Justify galloped over the Belmont surface for the first time, his copper coat glistening, heavily muscled. Tim Layden,, "Justify Attempts to Earn Triple Crown at Belmont With Less Narrative, Faded Anticipation," 7 June 2018 The end of season two saw Issa and Molly trying to muscle their way out of their respective ruts. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "How Insecure Gets Political While Ignoring Trump," 10 Aug. 2018 If your throat muscles become too lax, your airways can constrict, leading oxygen levels in your body to drop. Korin Miller, SELF, "7 Reasons You Might Wake Up Gasping for Air," 2 Oct. 2018 This proved a nice moment for the upstart SpaceX, which has muscled its way to the center of the aerospace industry during the last decade. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "SpaceX reveals the controls of its Dragon spacecraft for the first time," 14 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'muscle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of muscle


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1819, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for muscle


Middle English, from Latin musculus, from diminutive of mus mouse — more at mouse

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Statistics for muscle

Last Updated

18 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for muscle

The first known use of muscle was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for muscle



English Language Learners Definition of muscle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a body tissue that can contract and produce movement

: physical strength

: power and influence



English Language Learners Definition of muscle (Entry 2 of 2)

: to move (something) by using physical strength and force

: to move forward by using physical force


mus·​cle | \ ˈmə-səl \

Kids Definition of muscle

1 : a tissue of the body consisting of long cells that can contract and produce motion
2 : an organ of the body that is a mass of muscle tissue attached at either end (as to bones) so that it can make a body part move
3 : strength of the muscles He doesn't have the muscle to lift that.


noun, often attributive
mus·​cle | \ ˈməs-əl \

Medical Definition of muscle

1 : a body tissue consisting of long cells that contract when stimulated and produce motion — see cardiac muscle, smooth muscle, striated muscle
2 : an organ that is essentially a mass of muscle tissue attached at either end to a fixed point and that by contracting moves or checks the movement of a body part — see agonist sense 1, antagonist sense a, synergist sense 2

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More from Merriam-Webster on muscle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with muscle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for muscle

Spanish Central: Translation of muscle

Nglish: Translation of muscle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of muscle for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about muscle

Comments on muscle

What made you want to look up muscle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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