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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 *snḗh₁wr̥ (sinew, tendon), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)neh₁- (to twist (threads), spin, weave). 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 (neûron, tendon, cord, nerve), Avestan 𐬯𐬥𐬁𐬎𐬎𐬀𐬭 (snāuuar, tendon, sinew), Sanskrit स्नावन् (snāván, tendon, muscle, sinew), Tocharian B ṣñor.



sinew (plural sinews)

  1. (anatomy) A cord or tendon of the body.
  2. (obsolete) A nerve.
  3. (figuratively) Muscle; nerve; nervous energy; vigor; vigorous strength; muscular power.
  4. A string or chord, as of a musical instrument.
  5. (figuratively, often in the plural) That which gives strength or in which strength consists; a supporting member or factor; mainstay; source of strength.
    • c. 1604, William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act III, Scene 1,[1]
      [] the portion and sinew of her fortune, her marriage dowry;
    • 1658, Walter Raleigh, The Cabinet-Council Containing the Cheif Arts of Empire and Mysteries of State, London: Thomas Johnson, Chapter 25, p. 101,[2]
      The Bodies of Men, Munition, and Mony may justly be called the sinews of War []

Derived termsEdit


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sinew (third-person singular simple present sinews, present participle sinewing, simple past and past participle sinewed)

  1. To knit together, or make strong with, or as if with, sinews.