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

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 (For a while, "sinew" also meant "nerve," but that usage is obsolete.)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


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

This naturalism spreads to the face, a construction of sinew and bone that brings Leonardo’s autopsy drawings to mind. New York Times, "What Leonardo da Vinci Couldn’t Finish," 11 July 2019 Virtually unattached to military activity, economic sanctions today threaten connections to bankers, shippers, suppliers — the sinews of globalized trade — just as the Allied blockaders did to Germans around the world in 1918. Phillip Dehne, Twin Cities, "Phillip Dehne: How World War I transformed economic warfare," 2 July 2019 In 1932, in the midst of the Depression, Krasner studied life drawing under the painter Job Goodman, making crayon studies that were elegant but almost obscenely muscular, capturing the human body in ripples and swells of sinew. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Irrepressible Emotion of Lee Krasner," 13 June 2019 The connective tissue, fat, and sinew holding the muscles together require longer, slower cooking to melt into gelatin, yielding tender meat—and flavorful cooking liquid. Francine Maroukian, Popular Mechanics, "The Two Ways To Cook Meat Perfectly Every Time," 18 Aug. 2017 The rotisserie roasted duck was one dish that truly disappointed, a thick pad of unrendered fat still ringing its breast, whose meat was also threaded with a sinew. Craig Laban,, "The Bercy adds French brasserie sheen to thriving Ardmore scene," 13 July 2018 The sinew that bound these efforts together was social media. Jessi Hempel, WIRED, "Immigration Fight Shows Silicon Valley Must Stop Feigning Neutrality," 8 July 2018 Remove the sinew and connective tissue but keep the fat. Paula Forbes, GQ, "How to Cook Burgers from Scratch Without a Meat Grinder," 1 July 2018 Once knotty ropes of sinew unwind and melt into succulent gelatin, the Liholiho team can peel away the tough outer membrane. Ali Bouzari,, "Housemade: The magic of Liholiho Yacht Club," 22 June 2018

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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Statistics for sinew

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sinew

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on sinew

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sinew

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sinew

Spanish Central: Translation of sinew

Nglish: Translation of sinew for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sinew for Arabic Speakers

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to complain fretfully

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