I. mus ‧ cle 1 S2 W3 /ˈmʌs ə l/ BrE AmE noun
[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: French ; Origin: Latin musculus 'little mouse, muscle, mussel' , from mus 'mouse' ; because a muscle moving looks like a mouse under the skin ]
1 . [uncountable and countable] one of the pieces of flesh inside your body that you use in order to move, and that connect your bones together:
Relax your stomach muscles, then stretch again.
Regular exercise will help to strengthen your muscles.
Rooney has pulled a muscle in his thigh and won’t play tomorrow.
2 . not move a muscle to stay completely still:
The soldier stood without moving a muscle.
3 . [uncountable] power or influence
military/economic/political etc muscle
The unions have a lot of political muscle.
The agreement will give the UN some muscle to enforce human rights.
4 . [uncountable] physical strength and power:
It took muscle to work in an old-fashioned kitchen.
put some muscle into it (=used to tell someone to work harder)
⇨ flex your muscles at ↑ flex 1 (2)
• • •
▪ big muscles
He's developed big arm muscles.
▪ hard muscles (=strong, firm muscles)
the hard muscles of his back and shoulders
▪ arm/leg/stomach etc muscles
Her leg muscles ached after the run.
▪ rippling muscles (=muscles that move in a strong attractive way)
The sight of his rippling muscles sends women wild.
▪ use your muscles
Bend your knees and use your thigh muscles when picking up heavy objects.
▪ strengthen/build up your muscles (=make them stronger)
If you strengthen the muscles in your back you are less likely to have back problems.
▪ pull/strain a muscle (=injure it)
He pulled a muscle in his calf.
▪ stretch your muscles
It’s a good idea to stretch your muscles after weight lifting.
▪ flex your muscles (=bend your arm muscles so that people can see how strong you are)
He was lifting weights and flexing his muscles.
▪ relax your muscles (=make them feel less tight)
A hot bath will help relax sore muscles.
▪ tense/tighten your muscles (=make them more tight)
He tensed his stomach muscles, ready for the blow.
▪ your muscles contract (=tighten so that you can move a part of your body)
These nerves tell the muscles when to contract.
▪ your muscles ache (=hurt after being exercised too much)
I ran until my muscles ached.
■ muscle + NOUN
▪ muscle strength/power
This exercise will help increase muscle strength.
▪ muscle tone (=the firmness of your muscles)
Swimming is good exercise for improving muscle tone.
▪ a muscle spasm (=when your muscles tighten suddenly)
The drug helps control painful muscle spasms.
▪ muscle tissue (=the substance that muscles are made from)
If you lose weight too quickly you will lose muscle tissue as well as fat.
II. muscle 2 BrE AmE verb
muscle your way into/through etc something to use your strength to go somewhere:
Joe and Tony muscled their way through the crowd.
muscle in phrasal verb
to use your power to get involved in or take control of something that someone else was doing, especially in business – used to show disapproval
muscle in on
Banks are muscling in on the insurance business.