sin·​ew | \ ˈsin-(ˌ)yü How to pronounce sinew (audio) also ˈsi-(ˌ)nü \

Definition of sinew

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : tendon especially : one dressed for use as a cord or thread
2 obsolete : nerve
3a : solid resilient strength : power astonishing intellectual sinew and clarity— Reynolds Price
b : the chief supporting force : mainstay usually used in plural providing the sinews of better living— Sam Pollock


sinewed; sinewing; sinews

Definition of sinew (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to strengthen as if with sinews

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Did You Know?


Many parts of the body have come to have figurative meanings in English. One can have an eye for interior design, for example, or the stomach for a fight. "Muscle," of course, can mean "strength," and so can "sinew," a word for the tissue that ties muscle to bone - more commonly known as a tendon. (For a while, "sinew" also meant "nerve," but that usage is obsolete.) The use of "sinew" to mean "the chief supporting force" ties into its anatomical function as a stabilizing unit. Sinew derives via Middle English from Old English "seono"; it is also related to Old High German senawa ("sinew") and Sanskrit "syati" ("he binds").

Examples of sinew in a Sentence

Noun cutting through bone and sinew the justices displayed great intellectual depth and sinew in writing their opinion on this case
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The singer was a wee man, not even five foot five, all bone and sinew, maybe ninety pounds dressed for winter. Ew Staff,, 12 May 2021 Bacon is, in fact, at his most profound when objects and bodies feel like rooms unto themselves—when his faces show us geometric panoramas of their profiles, reveal to us the torn hemispheric circles of skin and the curved sinew beneath them. Sophie Madeline Dess, The Atlantic, 25 Mar. 2021 Which is too bad, because there’s a lot of heart, sinew, and energy here. Globe Staff,, 5 Mar. 2021 This prevents us from using sinew as any form of fishing tackle. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, 12 Oct. 2020 After cutting a sinew free, peel off or scrape away any meat that can be removed. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, 12 Oct. 2020 Nunn hafted the arrowheads with moose sinew onto red balau hardwood shafts, custom-made to accommodate my 32-inch draw length. Tyler Freel, Outdoor Life, 17 Nov. 2020 Unfortunately, every hero has his Kryptonite, and the substance that weakens sinew is water. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, 12 Oct. 2020 The sinew was usually from the back of an animal or a leg tendon but was sometimes made of rawhide or intestines. Andrew Del-colle, Popular Mechanics, 16 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In Rauch’s lively production, which deftly sinews the in-the-round Fichandler Stage, chorus members execute resonant stylized movement and also take cameos, such as a diner cook and waitress (Lamar and Kate Mulligan). Celia Wren, Washington Post, 17 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sinew.' 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 sinew


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1614, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sinew


Middle English sinewe, from Old English seono; akin to Old High German senawa sinew, Sanskrit syati he binds

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Time Traveler for sinew

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The first known use of sinew was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

21 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sinew.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for sinew



English Language Learners Definition of sinew

: strong tissue that connects muscles to bones


sin·​ew | \ ˈsin-yü How to pronounce sinew (audio) \

Kids Definition of sinew

: tendon


sin·​ew | \ ˈsin-(ˌ)yü, -yə(-w) also ˈsin-(ˌ)ü \

Medical Definition of sinew

: tendon

More from Merriam-Webster on sinew

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sinew

Nglish: Translation of sinew for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sinew for Arabic Speakers


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