muscle

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

muscle

verb
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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The second, a thunderdome of muscle called the gizzard, grinds up the food with the help of small stones. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "Rare fossil in a fossil reveals a dinosaur's surprising last meal," 11 July 2019 Rodriguez, 19, crafted himself into a first-round pick in the summer before his senior year of high school by adding 25 pounds of good muscle as well as remaking his delivery and pitch arsenal entering his draft year. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles' Chris Holt breaks down prospects Grayson Rodriguez, DL Hall ahead of All-Star Futures Game," 6 July 2019 The tanks are in place for the display of military muscle and protesters are ready to make their voices heard. Kevin Freking, Twin Cities, "Trump vows July 4 ‘show of a lifetime’ as protesters gather," 3 July 2019 Engineers couldn’t possibly copy an insect one for one—all the muscles and neurons and structures like wings. Matt Simon, WIRED, "What Could Possibly Be Cooler Than RoboBee? RoboBee X-Wing," 26 June 2019 Krysten Ritter packed on ten pounds of muscle to play the hard-drinking, promiscuous private investigator with superpowers and a tragic past. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Review: Jessica Jones S3 is flawed but packs a powerful payoff in the end," 24 June 2019 The sort of strain required for bone to infiltrate the tendon pointed him to handheld devices that bring the head forward and down, requiring the use of muscles at the back of the skull to prevent the head from falling to the chest. nola.com, "Horns are growing on young people’s skulls; researchers blame phone use," 22 June 2019 The Padres’ weight training and nutrition program had helped him add 20 pounds of muscle to a still-developing frame, particularly two thick legs. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Minors: Padres prospect Andres Munoz rising almost as fast as his famed fastball," 20 June 2019 She was bitten in the calf muscle and her leg quickly swelled. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al.com, "Alabama police officer in ICU, gets 16 vials of antivenin after on-duty rattlesnake bite," 19 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Even Warren at times looked out-muscled, especially in the second half of Wednesday's debate when she was barely called on by the moderators. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "The winners and losers from 2 nights of sparring at the Democratic debates in Miami," 28 June 2019 In hopes of muscling that tree through to survival, researchers create DNA hybrids that are 15/16 American chestnut and 1/16 blight-resistant Chinese chestnut. Robert Langellier, National Geographic, "A legendary Ozark chestnut tree, thought extinct, is rediscovered," 24 June 2019 Joe DeAngelo was thick-muscled and dough-faced, with an odd jounce to his gait. Tribune News Service, oregonlive.com, "The Man in the Window: Is this the childhood of a serial killer? (Part One)," 22 June 2019 The points were wrapped up for Nigeria with 15 minutes to go as a wonderful counter attacking move ended with Asisat Oshoala out-muscling the defender, rounding the goalkeeper and finishing into the net from an acute angle. SI.com, "Women's World Cup Recap: France Grab the Headlines With Win Over Norway & Germany Beat Spain," 12 June 2019 Inside the ship, in a gymnasium-size cavern, four men unloaded each netful into the hold and muscled the cargo into place, one box, one mattress at a time. Rowan Moore Gerety, Harper's magazine, "Downstream," 10 June 2019 Davis then muscled a shot over Reid Travis in the lane with 3:39 left for the Cougars’ first lead since 13 minutes left in the first half. Eric Olson, The Seattle Times, "Herro late 3-pointer lifts Kentucky over Houston, to Elite 8," 30 Mar. 2019 The East trained massively muscled shot-putters; the West, sublime shot-makers. The Economist, "For all its faults, the World Cup in Russia is worth celebrating," 9 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.

See More

First Known Use of muscle

Noun

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

Verb

circa 1819, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for muscle

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about muscle

Statistics for muscle

Last Updated

19 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for muscle

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for muscle

muscle

noun

English Language Learners Definition of muscle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a body tissue that can contract and produce movement
: physical strength
: power and influence

muscle

verb

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

muscle

noun
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.

muscle

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Britannica.com: 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).

WORD OF THE DAY

characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!