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 [script?] (snāvar-, “tendon, sinew”), Sanskrit [script?] (snāvan-, snāván-, “tendon, muscle, sinew”), Tocharian B ṣñor.
sinew (plural sinews)
- (anatomy) A cord or tendon of the body.
- (obsolete) A nerve.
- (figuratively) Muscle; nerve; nervous energy; vigor; vigorous strength; muscular power.
- A string or chord, as of a musical instrument.
- (figuratively) That which gives strength or in which strength consists; a supporting member or factor; mainstay; source of strength (often plural).
- The portion and sinew of her fortune, her marriage dowry.
- Sir Walter Raleigh
- The bodies of men, munition, and money, may justly be called the sinews of war.
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- To knit together, or make strong with, or as if with, sinews.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
- Wretches, now stuck up for long tortures […] might, if properly treated, serve to sinew the state in time of danger.