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


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

Soft tissue such as muscle do not typically fossilize, but these were preserved as the mineral pyrite. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "A 150-Year Old Weird Ancient Animal Mystery, Solved," 22 Feb. 2019 Now On its website, the company explains how Biotulin works, crediting spilanthol, a local anaesthetic extracted from Acmella oleracea, with the product's alleged muscle-relaxing effect. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Reportedly Swears by a $64 Natural Anti-Wrinkle Gel Called Biotulin," 2 Feb. 2019 Factor in its reported mood-enhancing and muscle-relaxing properties and it’s no wonder the practice has been anecdotally linked to the ultimate one-two punch for 2019: a better complexion and quiet mind. Mackenzie Wagoner, Vogue, "What’s the Best Way to Cleanse? A Guide to Detoxing in 2019," 1 Jan. 2019 In her latest photo, the music icon flaunts her arm muscles, cementing her title as our ultimate #fitspo queen. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "I Want J.Lo to Carry Me Like a Baby in Her Beautiful Strong Arms," 26 Sep. 2018 And the thing that helped me put on all that muscle and the weight was the protein shakes. Christopher Cason, GQ, "The Real-Life Diet of NBA Draft Prospect Trae Young," 21 June 2018 Primitive production stripped early Slayer classics of some of their power, but onstage, each song roared to life with newfound muscle and urgency. Bryan Rolli, Billboard, "Slayer Close Out First Leg of Farewell Tour with Blistering, Career-Spanning Austin Performance," 21 June 2018 Drawing on that filmmaking muscle, Layton interjects interviews with some of the original suspects into the proceedings. Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'Jurassic World' sequel, Mr. Rogers movie battle it out; also, where to watch free movies," 21 June 2018 Incredibles 2 is that kind of full-bodied picture, engaging and inventive and rendered with muscle. Graeme Mcmillan, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Incredibles 2': What the Critics Are Saying," 11 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Washington Post reported last week that Cube and Kwatinetz have filed a $1.2-billion lawsuit in California alleging that Qatari investors withheld funds in an attempt to muscle them out of the league. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Ice Cube, BIG3 basketball league send message to Donald Trump with full-page ad," 10 Apr. 2018 Sophomore center Tyrique Jones, too, had an impressive showing against the 7-foot-2 Reed, muscling up to one of the biggest challenges XU's faced at the center position all season. Patrick Brennan,, "No. 1 Xavier basketball downs Texas Southern in NCAA Tournament opener, 102-83," 16 Mar. 2018 And while Europe and China were wrestling with slowdowns, the U.S. economy muscled higher. Josh Zumbrun, WSJ, "IMF’s Departing Chief Economist Issues a Rare Warning on U.S. Growth," 9 Dec. 2018 Fortnite is slowly but surely muscling into everyone’s territory. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Fortnite adds planes and now people are playing it like Battlefield," 6 Dec. 2018 Rush linebacker Chima Onyeukwu muscled through the offensive line on the third play of Cooper’s team series to tap-sack the young QB. Theo Lawson, The Seattle Times, "WSU football camp | Cougars’ quarterback battle down to three men? Not quite yet.," 7 Aug. 2018 But the growth is not all at America’s expense—China is muscling out Europe and Japan, too. Malcolm Scott,, "China and the U.S. make up almost 40 percent of the world economy," 12 May 2016 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

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

12 Apr 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 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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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).


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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