Definition of sinew in US English:



  • 1A piece of tough fibrous tissue uniting muscle to bone or bone to bone; a tendon or ligament.

    • ‘She learned how to strip the sinews from the tendons and make the string for the bow, how to select the best willows for the shaft of the arrows, how to bind the goose quills to the shaft with gut and gum.’
    • ‘Tendons were severed, sinews slit and flesh shredded.’
    • ‘The sinews and muscles of the jet black steeds bulged and rippled as they trotted the coach around so that it pointed properly down the Beget Road.’
    • ‘The sight of death and destruction, the gore, the exposed sinew and bone, the open skulls and slaughtered children does not bother me.’
    • ‘The treatment of the musculature is sensitive, with veins, sinews, and tendons clearly depicted.’
    • ‘Slow cooked, the sinew that makes meat tough becomes jelly.’
    • ‘This Orisha indicates medicines which tone the tendons and sinews.’
    • ‘Noticing that there was little meat on the sucker and heeding the cook's warning that the sinew was pretty tough, I passed.’
    • ‘Surely he's made of rubber and elastic, rather than skin and bone, muscles and sinews.’
    • ‘An egg contains water within its beautiful smooth surface; and an unformed mass, by the incubation of the parent, becomes a regular animal, furnished with bones and sinews, and covered with feathers.’
    • ‘They control the sinews (muscles and joints), and their health is reflected in the finger and toe nails.’
    • ‘Tendons and sinews are still used for sewing and putting together the cone shaped Laitok tents; the antlers for fashioning tools, fishing hooks and ornaments.’
    • ‘The liver then may fail to nourish the sinews; muscles develop tension and weakness.’
    • ‘Joy surged through his blood, through his sinews, through his bones.’
    • ‘In Movement of Animals Aristotle likened the body's actions to those of a marionette, in that the bones correspond to the pegs and the sinews to the strings which cause movements.’
    • ‘Tough sinew was made from their tendons for stitching the heavy hides together.’
    • ‘She was tall, but, unlike Solange, she was composed less of sinews and bone, but rather of elegantly-developed womanly curves.’
    • ‘If a truck or a tank should appear, I am mushed with all sinews and bones irretrievably crushed.’
    • ‘The painting of the sixth stage captures the network of sinews and muscles that appear under the parched skin.’
    • ‘I could hear the scraping of bone against bone, the snapping of tendons and sinews as they parted and tore, making way for what would come.’
    tower of strength, key player, right-hand man, right-hand woman, right arm, atlas
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1usually sinews The parts of a structure, system, or thing that give it strength or bind it together.
      ‘the sinews of government’
      • ‘Ecclesiastical organisation has become the sinew and muscle of the Republican party.’
      • ‘This is by no means to imply that the X-Trail feels scantily put together or without sinew, nor that all its body panels will drop off as soon as you bump its reconfigured alloys up on to a kerb.’
      • ‘By opening ourselves to the presence of the Spirit, we can receive the sinews of divine strength, enabling us to move in his power.’
      • ‘Electricity and water on tap ease the burden of domestic labour for African women, but they may also help to snap some of the remaining sinews that hold together old rural lifestyles.’
      • ‘It is the theme that lends strength to the sheer ingenuity of SF, sinews to mere fancy.’
      • ‘This diversified, far flung structure didn't have the management sinews in place to enable it to run normally.’
      • ‘Students and fledgling writers are constantly warned away from adjectives and told to give their writing strength and sinew with judiciously chosen nouns and verbs.’
      • ‘In this silence, alert us to the wailing of people in peril, awaken us to possibilities of perfection, attune us to the sinews of strength that we share, so that our hands will not be lifted in destruction.’
      • ‘They succeeded in destroying the bones and sinews of the post-war settlement: heavy industry and the industrial public sector.’
      • ‘Sourav's men may have faltered at the World Cup finals but camps like these do hint at a team that is busy broadening its vision and strengthening its sinews.’
      • ‘But what we have is quite enough to be going on with: a bracingly intelligent documentary that treats its audience like grown-ups and has the force and sinew of real history and real politics.’
      • ‘Of course, finding the sinews to knit together your comedy muscles can be tricky.’
      • ‘Again, there was no grandstanding, no implication that the nation needed to have its resolve stiffened or its sinews strengthened.’


[with object]usually as adjective sinewed
  • Strengthen with or as if with sinews.

    ‘the sinewed shape of his back’
    • ‘One must be conscious that the culture of catastrophic memorialisation is sinewed with manipulations, lacunae and corruptions of historical reality.’
    • ‘The giant, sinewed fighter turned his head to the cave entrance.’


Old English sin(e)we ‘tendon’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zeen and German Sehne.