from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A tendon.
  • noun Vigorous strength; muscular power.
  • noun The source or mainstay of vitality and strength.
  • transitive verb To strengthen with or as if with sinews.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A cord or tendon of the body. See tendon.
  • noun A nerve. Compare aponeurosis.
  • noun Hence Figuratively, muscle; nerve; nervous energy; strength.
  • noun A string or chord, as of a musical instrument.
  • noun That which gives strength or in which strength consists; a supporting member or factor; a mainstay.
  • To furnish with sinews; strengthen as by sinews; make robust; harden; steel.
  • To serve as sinews of; be the support or mainstay of.
  • To knit or bind strongly; join firmly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Anat.) A tendon or tendonous tissue. See Tendon.
  • noun rare Muscle; nerve.
  • noun Fig.: That which supplies strength or power.
  • transitive verb To knit together, or make strong with, or as with, sinews.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun anatomy A cord or tendon of the body.
  • noun obsolete A nerve.
  • noun figuratively Muscle; nerve; nervous energy; vigor; vigorous strength; muscular power.
  • noun A string or chord, as of a musical instrument.
  • noun figuratively That which gives strength or in which strength consists; a supporting member or factor; mainstay; source of acquiring strength (often plural).
  • verb To knit together, or make strong with, or as if with, sinews.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a cord or band of inelastic tissue connecting a muscle with its bony attachment
  • noun possessing muscular strength


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English sinewe, from Old English sinewe, oblique form of seonu, sinu.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English sinewe, synow, sinue, from Old English sinu, synu, senu, seono, seonu ("sinew, nerve, tendon"), from Proto-Germanic *sinwō, *senawō (“sinew”), from Proto-Indo-European *senew-, *snēw- (“tendon”), from Proto-Indo-European *sey- (“to bind, knit, tie together, tie to, connect”). Cognate with Scots senon, sinnon, sinnow ("sinew"), Saterland Frisian Siene ("sinew"), West Frisian senuw, sine ("nerve, sinew"), Dutch zenuw ("nerve, sinew"), German Sehne ("tendon, cord, sinew"), Swedish sena ("sinew"), Icelandic sin ("tendon"), Latin nervus ("sinew, nerve, tendon"), Ancient Greek νεῦρον (neũron, "tendon, cord, nerve"), Avestan  (snāvar-, "tendon, sinew"), Sanskrit  (snāvan-, snāván-, "tendon, muscle, sinew"), Tocharian B ṣñor.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word sinew.


  • He preaches what he calls the sinew and bone of doctrine, and he is very stern in the pulpit.

    Watersprings Arthur Christopher Benson 1893

  • Matching him sinew for sinew is Wes Studi as the bloodcurdlingly vengeful villain Magua, who vows to rip the heart out of an old adversary.

    Last of the Mohicans: No 18 Cath Clarke 2010

  • And strings them nested onto strands of sinew from a tule deer


  • Tough sinew is the result of hard muscular action.

    The Strength and Strains of the British Economy 1970

  • The young day's strength is ours in sinew and thew and muscle,

    The Watchman and Other Poems Lucy Maud 1916

  • By Great Britain and her Colonies continually sending a vast amount of their trade to our neighbours to the south, or to the rival nation of Germany in Europe, we are deflecting that much capital and muscle and sinew from the Empire to develop outside countries, and it must always be a material sacrifice to ourselves.

    The Commercial Congress of the Empire at Sydney 1910

  • The word sinew, by the way, is exactly equal to our word nerve, and ayenward, as our author would say.

    Mediaeval Lore from Bartholomew Anglicus Robert Steele 1902

  • The sinew is carefully extracted; and where there are no persons skilled enough for that operation, they do not make use of the hind legs at all.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible 1871

  • Probably a desperate hand-to-hand fight would have ensued, for Fergus McKay had much of the bone, muscle, and sinew, that is characteristic of his race, but a blow from an unseen weapon stunned him, and when his senses returned he found himself bound hand and foot lying in the bottom of a canoe.

    The Buffalo Runners A Tale of the Red River Plains 1859

  • I might slip, and get a sprain or break a sinew, or something, and I should like to know that there is a practitioner at hand to take care of my injury.

    Over the Teacups Oliver Wendell Holmes 1851


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it."

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 36

    July 25, 2008