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 The disease is causing long-term problems in many patients, including muscle weakness, ongoing breathing problems and neurological problems. Stephanie Innes, The Arizona Republic, "Here's what you need to know about Arizona's COVID-19 death rate," 31 July 2020 The growths are made of fibrous and muscle tissue and have different effects on women. Aisha Salaudeen, CNN, "Why Black women are more likely to have fibroids than any other race group," 31 July 2020 During that time, Elordi focused on lifting heavy weights and gaining muscle. Gabrielle Chung,, "The Kissing Booth's Jacob Elordi Says He Was 'Bothered' by Those Who 'Wanted to Talk About My Body'," 30 July 2020 This small hand weight is perfect for building muscle while working out to a video or to carry while on an evening walk. Tanya Edwards, CNN Underscored, "Home gym equipment under $150 that’ll make you sweat," 29 July 2020 The patients, ages 16 to 85, had delirium (a period of severe mental confusion that often arrives rapidly), psychosis, stroke, seizures, and face or limb muscle weakness, among other symptoms. Julie Washington, cleveland, "Add delirium, hallucinations to list of symptoms associated with COVID-19," 13 July 2020 Made from silicone, these patches are designed to be worn overnight to gently compress the skin and prevent muscle movement, leaving your complexion smoother and more rejuvenated come morning. Isabelle Kagan, USA TODAY, "These popular beauty patches can help reduce wrinkles—and they're on sale," 10 July 2020 Over the next five months, an ulcer gnawed away at the boy’s flesh, exposing the red muscle of his leg. Brendan Borrell, The Atlantic, "Australia Has a Flesh-Eating-Bacteria Problem," 3 July 2020 Also, drink water all day long to help alleviate muscle stiffness. Washington Post, "Hints From Heloise: Is it a bargain?," 3 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On his third and fourth albums, Hadreas muscled into more ambitious territory: his sound was layered, lush, shimmery and shuddering, with moments of aural sublimity underlined by allusions to decay and death. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "Perfume Genius Wants to Make You Feel Less Lonely," 12 May 2020 Malkin muscled the puck away from Charlie McAvoy, shoveled his dish by Sean Kuraly, and the comeback was complete. Kevin Paul Dupont,, "Bruins squander 3-0 first-period lead, fall to Penguins," 19 Jan. 2020 Amazon muscled into the six-season Sky-BT Sport stranglehold on Premier League telecasts in Britain through its pay-tv channels by capturing live rights for entire rounds on the first midweek in early December and around Boxing Day on Dec. 26. Washington Post, "Playing catch up: Premier League round to air live in UK," 2 Dec. 2019 This year’s reserves have taken just 24.2% of their shots from inside three feet, where so many fouls come from either on drives to the bucket or bigs muscling in the post, compared to last year’s group at 32.3%. Nathan Brown, Indianapolis Star, "A breakdown of the Pacers' historic struggle to get to the free throw line this season," 22 Nov. 2019 Orlando City muscled out a draw during its final road game of the season on Sunday, with a stoppage time goal from Benji Michel leveling the score 1-1 against FC Cincinnati. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Three things we learned from Orlando City’s 1-1 draw to FC Cincinnati," 2 Oct. 2019 As the sun set on one of the warmer days of the year in San Francisco, Lia Ditton muscled her 21-foot rowboat under the Golden Gate Bridge, crossing the finish line of a 22-day solo journey at sea. Taylor Kate Brown,, "Bay Briefing: Oakland’s sheds-for-homeless program — how effective is it?," 30 Sep. 2019 Last year, Netflix muscled its way into the Oscar conversation in a major way for the first time by acquiring Alfonso Cuarón’s Mexican epic Roma, which ended up winning trophies for directing, cinematography, and foreign-language film. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Irishman Makes Perfect Sense for Netflix," 30 Sep. 2019 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

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

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Muscle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 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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