Definition of mussel in US English:



  • Any of a number of bivalve mollusks with a brown or purplish-black shell.

    a marine bivalve that uses byssus threads to anchor to a firm surface (family Mytilidae, order Mytiloidea), including the edible mussel (Mytilus edulis)

    a freshwater bivalve that typically lies on the bed of a river, some species forming small pearls (family Unionidae, order Unionoida)

    • ‘To this she added most of a can of tomatoes and a touch of cream, and the mussels were put in to steam.’
    • ‘Think of molluscs and chances are it is shellfish such as limpets, whelks, scallops and mussels that spring to mind.’
    • ‘The shop also has a wide range of seafood including tiger prawns, mussels, sea bream and breaded crab claws.’
    • ‘Remove the heads and shells from the prawns and shell the mussels.’
    • ‘When everything is boiling, put in the bag of mussels and boil for 2 minutes.’
    • ‘Scrub the mussels and clams, discarding any whose shells are gaping open or seem lifeless when you squeeze them.’
    • ‘Soak the clams and the mussels in a big pot of cold water for an hour or two.’
    • ‘When cool enough to handle, slip the mussels from their shells and set aside.’
    • ‘Press the shells of any open mussels together with your fingers; if they don't close, throw them away.’
    • ‘Meanwhile Andrew lived simply on a diet of mussels and whelks and the occasional boiled crab that bubbled in the pot.’
    • ‘I started with mussels, tiger prawns and scallops in a light fish broth flavoured with Chinese spices.’
    • ‘I actually like rocks because you can find lots of stuff in them like mussels and crabs and shellfish.’
    • ‘Why couldn't they be farmed, like oysters, or grown on ropes, like mussels?’
    • ‘Fresh mussels, also known as poor man's oysters for their cheap abundance, are marvellous at this time of year.’
    • ‘Extract the meat from most of the mussels and discard the shells.’
    • ‘Add the vegetables, watercress and shelled mussels and clams to this, season to taste and serve.’
    • ‘We ate fish soup, mussels, oysters, skate in brown butter and my aunt's tomato salad.’
    • ‘Shell the mussels, watching out for any reluctant beards, and discard any that aren't open.’
    • ‘Remove the mussels with a draining spoon and transfer to warm bowls.’
    • ‘Four or five minutes later, add the clams, then the mussels and prawns, and stir in the saffron strands.’


Old English mus(c)le, superseded by forms from Middle Low German mussel, Middle Dutch mosscele; ultimately from late Latin muscula, from Latin musculus (see muscle).