Meaning of muscle in English:


Pronunciation /ˈmʌsl/

See synonyms for muscle

Translate muscle into Spanish


  • 1A band or bundle of fibrous tissue in a human or animal body that has the ability to contract, producing movement in or maintaining the position of parts of the body.

    Muscles are formed of bands, sheets, or columns of elongated cells (or fibres) containing interlocking parallel arrays of the proteins actin and myosin. Projections on the myosin molecules respond to chemical signals by forming and reforming chemical bonds to the actin, so that the filaments move past each other and interlock more deeply. This converts chemical energy into the mechanical force of contraction, and also generates heat

    ‘the calf muscle’
    • ‘the sheet of muscle between the abdomen and chest’
    • ‘The powerful venom acts on the victim's voluntary muscles, paralysing the muscles required for body movement and breathing.’
    • ‘Make sure you get sufficient protein to protect not only your bones, but your muscles and other body tissues.’
    • ‘Each time the calf and thigh muscles contract when walking, veins deep inside the leg are squeezed.’
    • ‘In this specimen, large lymphoid cells diffusely infiltrated muscle and fibrous tissue.’
    • ‘The tendon is the strong, white fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones.’
    • ‘In this condition, muscle and fibrous tissues of the renal artery wall thicken and harden into rings.’
    • ‘The processes that bring about movement of the voluntary muscles of the body start on the surface of the brain in an area called the motor cortex.’
    • ‘He also leaned laterally during single leg stance, which may indicate weak gluteus medius muscles relative to his body weight.’
    • ‘RSI occurs when repeated physical movements damage tendons, nerves, muscles and other soft body tissues.’
    • ‘A heartbeat is when the muscles of the heart contract and push blood around the body.’
    • ‘Energy is also needed to grow and repair the body's tissues, and to power the muscles for movement.’
    • ‘The second group called sarcomas, arise from the substance of solid tissues such as muscle, bone, lymph glands, blood vessels and fibrous and other connective tissues.’
    • ‘A septum of connective tissue separates the circular muscle layers of the pylorus and duodenum.’
    • ‘And I had thought maybe I'd done something, you know, pulled a muscle or something.’
    • ‘Contraction of the circumferential muscle bundles constricts the infundibulum to a conical shape.’
    • ‘The pain is the result of an overload on your tibia and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to your tibia.’
    • ‘We should explain: a tendon is basically a strong piece of tissue which connects a muscle to bone and is the extension which pulls on the bone and allows the joint to straighten or flex.’
    • ‘On physical examination, pain is present from the tip of the medial epicondyle to the pronator teres and flexor carpi radialis muscles.’
    • ‘The striated muscles innervated by cranial nerves are usually affected the most severely.’
    • ‘Once extracted, they can be stimulated in a laboratory to develop into any type of body cell or organ including bone, muscle and body tissue.’
    1. 1.1A muscle or muscles when well developed or prominently visible under the skin.
      ‘his muscles rippled beneath his tanned skin’
      • ‘Her stomach tightens, strong muscles visible beneath her skin.’
      • ‘He stroked her neck, feeling the strong muscles beneath the skin ripple at his touch.’
      • ‘He watched the way she took up a pickaxe and swung it, saw the muscles rippling beneath her tanned skin.’
      • ‘He shrugged, muscles rippling beneath his bare bronzed skin.’
      • ‘Beneath his golden skin, muscles rippled as he shifted positions.’
      • ‘The mountain lion had a tawny coat; beneath, its muscles rippled, bunching and stretching with each step.’
      • ‘Her physique is trim and strong; you can see every ripple of her well-defined muscles beneath her shiny fur.’
      • ‘The mastiff is powerful, heavy muscles rippling beneath its scarred pelt.’
      • ‘He wore all black clothes but she could see the ripple of his muscles beneath the fabric on his arms and chest.’
      • ‘Vastly enhanced muscles rippled beneath his armour, as if threatening to burst through their restraints at any moment.’
      • ‘He pressed his palm against Rob's chest, felt his heart beating slowly beneath the smooth, tanned skin and taut muscles.’
      • ‘She felt the slight ripple underneath the skin, his muscles bunching and clenching in reaction to her touch.’
      • ‘She was thin, so nearly every bone protruded beneath translucent white skin and emaciated muscles.’
      • ‘His silken hide of blood brown hue gleamed as he moved, muscles rippling beneath the sleek pelt.’
      • ‘His muscles under his tan skin rippled, sending shivers up my spine.’
      • ‘The muscles rippled and jerked under a sick gray skin that looked as though it had been stretched too tightly over the body.’
      • ‘He was at least twice my size, all muscle and brute strength.’
      • ‘Both have played an awful lot of rugby in the past few seasons and right now they're concentrating on building muscle and power.’
  • 2mass noun Physical power; strength.

    ‘he had muscle but no brains’
    • ‘We've power of muscle and brain, and where else is that combination useful?’
    • ‘A matter of a difference in opinion should not be settled with muscle rather than the brain.’
    • ‘But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.’
    • ‘Predictably, the alien blesses the boy with his powers, so the audience is not robbed of the opportunity to see some muscle, brawn and macho acts from the young star in the second half.’
    • ‘He trained in the UK as a chef, but because of his dyslexia the jobs he can get use his muscle not his brain and he cannot get a driving licence - he can't take the written test.’
    • ‘The crafting of such language, potent with muscle and brain, lends objective shape to the act of consciousness itself.’
    • ‘Months in the planning, it is a job that needs all the skills of a group of experienced villains, brains, muscle and connections, with no man greater than the sum of the whole.’
    • ‘He thought Luke was all muscle and no brains.’
    • ‘But we've got to fight with our muscle and our brain, and do it in a smart way.’
    • ‘Asha thought of him as a dumb jockey with no brains but plenty of muscle.’
    • ‘He was the executive producer of the unit and its brains and muscle, too.’
    • ‘The Wolves also could use some muscle at power forward, which would give Garnett and Smith some help up front and take the pressure off the perimeter shooters.’
    • ‘He taught that power was a must, yet it must be total power that included muscle, mind, and ki working in unison.’
    • ‘At power forward, Portland can go with Wallace or Brian Grant, depending on whether you want star power or muscle and hustle.’
    • ‘Nesterenko is tall and strong, though, and started mobilising that muscle at just the right time.’
    strength, power, muscularity, brawn, brawniness, burliness, huskiness
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 informal A man or men exhibiting physical power or strength, typically employed to use or threaten violence.
      • ‘an ex-marine of enormous proportions who'd been brought along as muscle’
      • ‘Louis was the sort that shoestring celebrities often employ as muscle to keep up appearances.’
      • ‘By this time both sides had brought some professional muscle to bear on proceedings.’
      • ‘I really hope he cuts a deal and brings in the hired muscle.’
      • ‘If the Sopranos ever need some muscle they should drop by the Flamingo.’
      • ‘She was seen calling on people around her to bring in some muscle to help remove the reporters.’
    2. 2.2Power or influence, especially in a commercial or political sphere.
      ‘many companies lack the financial muscle to adopt a more hard-nosed relationship with buyers’
      • ‘The truth is, governments and governments alone have the financial and political muscle that can deliver real change.’
      • ‘Public officials must provide the political muscle and resources to implement these programs.’
      • ‘They'd just pay their better players more, and use their financial muscle to build a dominant team.’
      • ‘The history of the first group of wines has been heavily influenced, nay hampered, by the commercial muscle of protectionist Bordeaux.’
      • ‘It is a clever strategy, which has the double benefit of emphasising the Chancellor's political muscle while displaying the weakness of his rival.’
      • ‘Sent this book by someone with less commercial muscle, his editors would unquestionably have demanded a thorough overhaul.’
      • ‘This is a clear case of a multinational conglomerate using its political muscle to the disadvantage of everyone but itself.’
      • ‘But it is an election year and these groups are ready to flex the political muscle.’
      • ‘Consumer and other civic interest groups also put their feet in the door, though they found it much harder to exercise effective political muscle.’
      • ‘These offer the prospect of being able to mobilise grassroots lobbying muscle to influence policy makers.’
      • ‘Countries needed to put political muscle behind health improvement measures, he added.’
      • ‘And the only way to do that is to use the industrial and political muscle that unions have because individuals can't make a lot of difference.’
      • ‘But he needed some financial muscle, a little fiscal clout to open a few doors for him.’
      • ‘The government would provide money to groups of volunteers to give financial muscle to land care projects across the nation.’
      • ‘These groups are easy targets because they don't have the political muscle or the money.’
      • ‘Did you applaud the hauliers and farmers and gleefully hope that their muscle would bring down the cost of fuel?’
      • ‘Behind the scenes, a bit of diplomatic muscle was brought to bear.’
      • ‘Australia has given more than one million dollars to help the process along and it could still be asked to supply judicial muscle to the international tribunal.’
      • ‘His Parliamentary opponents delightedly congratulated each other on their unprecedented exhibition of constitutional muscle.’
      • ‘With European animation companies supplying the creative juice and the US bringing their marketing muscle to bear, these could be profitable for all concerned.’
      influence, power, strength, might, force, forcefulness, weight, potency
      View synonyms


with object and adverbial
  • 1mainly North American informal Move (an object) in a particular direction by using one's physical strength.

    • ‘they were muscling baggage into the hold of the plane’
    • ‘His strength allows him to muscle shots even when he doesn't put the bat's sweet spot on the ball.’
    • ‘A third-generation Marine, he lugged the same heavy pack, muscled the same kind of machine gun into his foxhole at night and took the same risks as any of the bigger men.’
    • ‘The six-liter, 325-horsepower turbo diesel engine can muscle you up loose inclines and keep you in the passing lane.’
    • ‘The silver of the cuffs that bind his hands together behind his back glint as they muscle him down in the direction of the street below, where many sprawling police cars have gathered.’
    • ‘He was a young kid, and now they were going to muscle him out of there.’
    • ‘He muscles the log toward the opposite bank, crouches atop a slick boulder, and steadies the log.’
    • ‘This chef is a meat man, of course, an aggressive, boisterous character used to spending long hours muscling chickens and slabs of beef over a hot open flame.’
    • ‘It moves by rolling, log-style, or by lifting its head or tail, inchworm-like, and muscling itself forward.’
    • ‘It was muscling its way onto shore, hands sinking deeply into the sand.’
    1. 1.1Coerce by violence or by economic or political pressure.
      ‘he was eventually muscled out of the market’
      • ‘We see it every day on our way to work, a street scene replicated city-wide: white-collar execs hailing taxis on every street corner, muscling others out of the way for the comfort of air-conditioned interiors.’
      • ‘I was driving to work one morning recently when a gentleman in a big Sports Utility Vehicle barreled down on me from a side street and muscled his way into the line of morning traffic.’
      • ‘And Labour MPs have not just muscled this off the agenda in the run-up to the General Election expected next summer only to see it reappear in the autumn.’
      • ‘He suffered the further indignity of almost being muscled out of the party by executives who wanted to strip him of his riding nomination.’
      • ‘The government also seem to have muscled out the UN in the reconstruction programme.’


    flex one's muscles
    • Give a show of strength or power.

      ‘the committee likes to flex its political muscles from time to time’
      • ‘And who can forget the imperial powers flexing their muscles - Mussolini's Italy invading Ethiopia, Hitler's Germany making its territorial advances in Europe.’
      • ‘History often provides an opportunity for political outfits to flex their muscles and resort to a show of pomp to impress a wavering rank and file.’
      • ‘Committees are also flexing their muscles in ways ministers are struggling to predict.’
      • ‘Now that Labour is safely back in power, the public sector unions have already started to flex their muscles.’
      • ‘Now they are flexing their muscles, increasingly conscious of their strength and ever more radical in their demands.’
      • ‘So at some stage you have to lay down the law and your kids will see it as you flexing your muscles and being unkind to them but in reality you are just teaching them for the future or protecting them.’
      • ‘But the US regulators are also flexing their muscles and seeking to impose their standards on other markets around the world.’
      • ‘The so-called ‘dwarfs’ of the EU flexed their muscles at the Athens summit yesterday and insisted their opposition to a permanent and single EU president must be heeded.’
      • ‘They routinely flexed their muscles in the form of politically-motivated strikes, most significantly in the early 1970s when they helped bring down Edward Heath's Conservative government.’
      • ‘Superpowers flexed their muscles figuratively in the space race and literally at the Olympics.’
    not move a muscle
    • Not move at all.

      ‘the driver shouted in his ear, but he did not move a muscle’
      • ‘In any case, he didn't move a muscle - indeed, he appeared uncharacteristically calm - as I advanced slowly but steadily in his direction.’
      • ‘Her wild curls whip around her face, but she doesn't move a muscle.’
      • ‘I don't move a muscle, keeping my face completely unreadable.’
      • ‘He didn't say anything and didn't move a muscle.’
      • ‘She stood trembling slightly, but didn't move a muscle.’
      • ‘Gregory didn't move a muscle as this stranger approached them.’
      • ‘Ricky didn't move a muscle, but inside he felt so sick.’
      • ‘She didn't move a muscle, except for the slight spasm in her hand.’
      • ‘In fact, he didn't move a muscle, though his mind was going a mile a minute.’
      • ‘Caroline didn't move a muscle, but processed this information carefully.’

Phrasal Verbs

    muscle in
    • also muscle into somethingUse one's power or influence to interfere with or become involved in another's business, area of activity, etc.

      • ‘up to half of the smaller firms might go out of business as larger companies muscle in’
      • ‘a rival gang starts muscling in on his family's turf’
      • ‘the internet giant is getting more aggressive in its attempt to muscle its way into the online music space’
      • ‘Somehow this company muscling into our market was never going to take off.’
      • ‘A new budget hotel chain has muscled into the market there with a somewhat spurious name.’
      • ‘It has muscled into this market and has grown to a reasonable size.’
      • ‘Now they want to make your phone ring, and are muscling into the lucrative mobile market.’
      • ‘The superiority lasted only until the ninth minute, when Makel muscled into the script.’
      • ‘The Strathclyde source also revealed his associates have been trying to muscle into the drugs trade in Edinburgh and Glasgow.’
      • ‘That could mean new launches will find it harder to muscle into the territory without deep pockets.’
      • ‘But if you were running a commercial legal practice, in addition to this heightened conservatism you'd hardly welcome qualified social workers muscling into family law practices.’
      • ‘I also thought that, as a gay man, I represented the minority of the ‘at risk’ group, and therefore I would be muscling my way in on something that should really be someone else's issue.’
      • ‘There was a guy that I went to college with who ran the Fair, so we kinda muscled our way in.’
    muscle up
    US informal
    • Build up one's muscles.

      • ‘to prepare for his role, he cut his hair, muscled up, and went to boot camp’
      • ‘But now the players are muscling up without bulking up.’
      • ‘Players may become bigger and stronger, and such muscling up certainly would help ‘a football linebacker or a professional wrestler or a saloon bouncer,’ he said.’
      • ‘Even easygainers often have trouble muscling up this area.’
      • ‘They're better than squats for muscling up the quads and targeting different areas, and they're safer, too.’
      • ‘If there's one bodypart that hardgainers have extra difficulty muscling up, it's thighs.’
      • ‘They're strong, don't get me wrong, but they're not all muscled up.’
      • ‘He finally has gotten serious about his weight problem and has trimmed down and muscled up during the offseason.’
      • ‘They all looked spectacular, all muscled up and filled out.’
      • ‘I'd thought beforehand that he looked far from racing fit, very fat and not muscled up at all.’
      • ‘Of particular interest: trout that muscle up rapidly on environmentally friendly, grain-based feeds, made from oats or barley, for instance.’
      • ‘The 31-year-old did play semipro football for a number of years, and he began lifting weights six years ago to muscle up.’
      • ‘Deadlifts are foremost a lower-back exercise, but they muscle up your entire backside from your glutes to your neck.’
      • ‘With his size he does not have to muscle up to hit home runs.’
      • ‘These 10 tips for triceps training will help you muscle up the back of your arms in the shortest time possible.’
      • ‘Instead, the following triceps guide is designed to muscle up the back of your arms as fast as possible.’
      • ‘For the guy looking to muscle up and lean out, protein is a big part of the puzzle.’
      • ‘In my neck of the woods these sleek silver specimens, muscled up with the rich feeding of the ocean, are often called ‘greyhounds of the sea‘.’


Late Middle English from French, from Latin musculus, diminutive of mus ‘mouse’ (some muscles being thought to be mouse-like in form).