American English

Definition of muscle noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable, uncountable] a piece of body tissue that you contract and relax in order to move a particular part of the body; the tissue that forms the muscles of the body a calf/neck/thigh muscle to pull/tear/strain a muscle This exercise will work the muscles of the lower back. She tried to relax her tense muscles. He felt every muscle in his body tighten. He didn't move a muscle (= stood completely still). Topic CollocationsInjuriesbeing injured have a fall/an injury receive/suffer/sustain a serious injury/a hairline fracture/a gunshot wound/a concussion/whiplash injuries hurt/injure your ankle/back/leg damage the brain/an ankle ligament/your liver/the optic nerve/the skin pull/strain/tear a hamstring/ligament/muscle/tendon sprain/twist your ankle/wrist break a bone/your collarbone/your leg/three ribs fracture/crack your skull break/chip/knock out/lose a tooth burst/perforate your eardrum dislocate your finger/hip/jaw/shoulder/elbow bruise/cut/graze your arm/knee/shoulder burn/scald yourself/your tongue bang/bump/hit your elbow/head/knee (on/against something)treating injuries treat somebody for burns/a head injury/a stab wound examine/clean/dress/bandage/treat a bullet wound repair a damaged/torn ligament/tendon/cartilage amputate/cut off an arm/a finger/a foot/a leg/a limb put on (formal) apply/take off a Band-Aid™/a sterile dressing/a bandage need/require/put in/get/take out stitches put on/rub on (formal) apply cream/ointment/lotion have/receive/undergo physical therapy
  2. 2[uncountable] physical strength He's an intelligent player but lacks the muscle of older competitors.
  3. 3[uncountable] the power and influence to make others do what you want to exercise political/industrial/financial muscle
    adjective heavily muscled shoulders
  5. Idioms
    flex your muscles
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    to show someone how powerful you are, especially as a warning or threat
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: muscle