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

Other common symptoms include coughing, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headaches, muscle aches, chest pain and shortness of breath. Susan Scutti, CNN, "One person has died of Legionnaires' disease after staying at an Atlanta hotel," 6 Aug. 2019 West Nile symptoms appear three to 14 days after infection and include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches and weakness and a rash. Noelle Phillips, The Denver Post, "West Nile Virus found in Weld County mosquitoes," 2 Aug. 2019 Other symptoms include difficulty chewing, pain and tenderness of the testicles, fever, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Mumps cases continue to increase in San Diego County," 24 July 2019 The most common disease spread by ticks is Lyme disease, which can cause multiple symptoms including fever, muscle aches, joint pain, rash and facial paralysis. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "U.S. House orders Pentagon to investigate whether ticks were once used as biological weapons," 17 July 2019 Symptoms can appear within a few hours to three days after exposure and include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches. Leada Gore |,, "3 cases of Legionnaire’s disease reported at Atlanta hotel; 400 guests relocated," 16 July 2019 The bacteria can cause Legionellosis disease, a form of pneumonia which results in flu-like symptoms, including headache, cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath, muscle aches and diarrhea. Colin Campbell,, "Worried about Legionnaires’ disease from Baltimore Harbor Tunnel tolls? Relax, experts say.," 11 July 2019 Cousins now says that his quadriceps muscle is 100% healthy. Tania Ganguli,, "New Laker DeMarcus Cousins looking forward to teaming with Anthony Davis again," 10 July 2019 Symptoms can include fever, diarrhea, stiff neck, confusion and muscle aches. Rebekah Tuchscherer, USA TODAY, "Green Giant, Trader Joe's and Signature Farms veggies recalled for potential Listeria risk," 1 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Indeed, the main New Zealand side is often defined by a Maori identity that many New Zealanders feel ownership of, from the haka and the sleeve tattoos that adorn muscled forearms to an expansive, fast-paced style of play seen as distinctly Maori. C.h., The Economist, "Why New Zealand’s other All Blacks matter," 18 July 2019 But in recent years, the mob’s grip on power has loosened after years of racketeering cases, bloody infighting, and powerful new players from Russia and Albania muscling in. Tim Elfrink,, "An execution looked like a Mafia vendetta. But the man’s son planned the hit, feds say.," 19 June 2019 He's muscled with a six-pack that would make even Nick Scratch jealous, has beautiful brown locks of hair, and trots around town wearing nothing but a loincloth, showing off his blasphemous backside and eventually making his way to Dorian Gray's. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," 10 Apr. 2019 Then there is the matter of his spot in the rotation, which is why the bulking up has been measured, likely still needing to chase wings as a small forward, but potentially to also to be asked to muscle up against power forwards in the post. Ira Winderman,, "Heat’s Duncan Robinson bulking up more than his statistics," 8 July 2019 Tiger Woods, the 2019 Masters winner and 15-time major champion, wrestled and muscled and grinded his way around the course as can only he, even at 43. Chuck Culpepper,, "All these low scores a far cry from the norm at a Pebble Beach US Open," 14 June 2019 Leonard muscled through the contact and made the shot anyway, extending the Raptors’ three-point lead and embodying, for a moment, a teamwide theme: of hard work done simply, of advantages unflashily accrued. Robert O'connell, The Atlantic, "The Toronto Raptors Were Ready," 14 June 2019 Rookie Dwayne Haskins muscled his way into Joe Theismann’s out-of-circulation No. Jonathan Jones,, "NFL Teams Should Uniformly Stop Retiring Jersey Numbers," 4 June 2019 Tolkien’s world is a huge get for Amazon, which is working to grow its customer base as companies like Apple and Disney muscle their way into the streaming video market, especially as HBO’s Game of Thrones just ended. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s J.A. Bayona will direct Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show," 3 July 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

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Statistics for muscle

Last Updated

16 Aug 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).


to shake or wave menacingly

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