noun, often attributive
mus·​cle | \ ˈmə-səl How to pronounce muscle (audio) \

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 How to pronounce muscling (audio) \

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

Noun 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. Verb 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 There is no down time during this down time for Keene, who has added 20 pounds of muscle since the end of last season. Richard Obert, azcentral, "Mikey Keene just tapping into his potential to be among Chandler's greatest quarterbacks," 6 May 2020 When Reed, the Knicks’ emotional and statistical leader, tore a muscle in his right thigh during Game 5, the Knicks scuttled their offense at halftime to create a 1-3-1 scheme. Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times, "Remembering Jerry West’s 60-footer, Lakers heartbreak 50 years ago," 29 Apr. 2020 Finally, the system translates thoughts into stimulations of muscles on the arm, resulting in movement. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "BCI system gives paralyzed man back his sense of touch with haptic feedback," 24 Apr. 2020 Caitlin Macky, a junior swimmer during the first probe, told USA TODAY that Shaw used a muscle stimulator to treat her knee and shoulder. USA Today, "San Jose State reinvestigates claims athletic trainer inappropriately touched swimmers," 17 Apr. 2020 In this book, choreographer Twyla Tharp talks about how creativity is a muscle that needs to be trained, and how the mind and the body are co-workers that work in balance. TheWeek, "6 book recommendations from Dominique Ansel," 12 Apr. 2020 The tire seemed to be fused to the rim, but Project volunteer Brandon Wilson showed up just in time to provide a little more muscle. al, "Delta Bike Project adapts to keep patrons rolling," 27 Mar. 2020 Verlander had a start in spring training delayed by discomfort in his groin, and later was bothered by a strained muscle in his shoulder/back area. Reid Laymance, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Justin Verlander undergoes surgery on right groin," 17 Mar. 2020 The tailored-for-TV tour was broadcast globally and designed to show a seemingly successful China muscle its way through a monster health crisis led by Xi at a time when international efforts to contain the virus have fallen short of expectations. Barnini Chakraborty, Fox News, "China reframes coronavirus narrative, touts Xi's accomplishments despite bodies piling up," 16 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Civil rights groups say the federal government should muscle up oversight with an emergency order with worker safety requirements. Dianne Solis, Dallas News, "When should coronavirus testing be provided at meat and poultry plants?," 21 May 2020 Danzig is shirtless, muscled, tattooed, and crouched in front of a short bookshelf. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Glenn Danzig Sings Elvis," 12 May 2020 For a candidate whose allies had allowed themselves to dream of an incident-free path to the nomination, muscling through Iowa and dominating by Super Tuesday, his early stumbles have been startling. New York Times, "Biden Tells Voters to Look to the Past. (Just Not the Last Week.)," 7 Feb. 2020 Glass had his best team since joining Ironwood with 12 points, most of those coming on offensive rebounds and muscling up in the post, taking his man down low. Richard Obert, azcentral, "Ironwood boys basketball making move in loaded 5A Conference," 14 Jan. 2020 James then drove right toward the basket and used his 6-foot-9, 250-pound frame to muscle his way past both Antetokounmpo and Bucks guard Marvin Williams for the right-handed layup. Mark Medina, USA TODAY, "Opinion: LeBron James vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo: Lakers coach says 'LeBron got the upper hand'," 7 Mar. 2020 That should make at least a slight difference on the power front, but a bigger impact would be made if players are able to muscle up a bit more, an aim for the new coaching staff. John Shea,, "Where will Giants get their power? Gabe Kapler explains," 4 Feb. 2020 Confronted with such irresistible numbers, Big Media has spent much of the past year muscling in. Hugh Eakin, Harper's magazine, "Selective Hearing," 19 Jan. 2020 Authentic liberals need to muscle up for the fight of their lives IN THE 19TH century, liberals freed the slaves and freed trade. The Economist, "Open Future Is liberalism really kaput?," 4 Dec. 2019

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 entry 1

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Time Traveler for muscle

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for muscle

Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Muscle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for muscle


How to pronounce muscle (audio)

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 How to pronounce muscle (audio) \

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 How to pronounce muscle (audio) \

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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