The tendon that connects muscles to bone is also called sinew. The noun is also used to suggest strength and resilience, and is sometimes used as a literary term for muscle, literal or metaphorical, as in “a nation’s sinew.”

Sinew derives from before 900 CE, with relatives found in the Dutch zenuw and the Old High German senawa. Our present spelling worked its way through the Old English seonowe to become the Middle English sinewe. Aside from its anatomical meaning, this word is often used to present an image of strength and power, evident in filmmaker Ingmar Bergman’s statement, “I write scripts to serve as skeletons awaiting the flesh and sinew of images.”

Definitions of sinew
  1. noun
    a cord or band of inelastic tissue connecting a muscle with its bony attachment
    synonyms: tendon
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    hamstring, hamstring tendon
    one of the tendons at the back of the knee
    Achilles tendon, tendon of Achilles
    a large tendon that runs from the heel to the calf
    type of:
    connective tissue
    tissue of mesodermal origin consisting of e.g. collagen fibroblasts and fatty cells; supports organs and fills spaces between them and forms tendons and ligaments
  2. noun
    the possession of muscular strength
    synonyms: brawn, brawniness, heftiness, muscle, muscularity
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    type of:
    the property of being physically or mentally strong
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