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[muhs-uh l] /ˈmʌs əl/
any bivalve mollusk, especially an edible marine bivalve of the family Mytilidae and a freshwater clam of the family Unionidae.
Origin of mussel
before 1000; Middle English, Old English muscle < Vulgar Latin *mūscula, variant of Latin mūsculus little mouse, sea mussel. See muscle Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for mussel
  • They're larger and meatier than the traditional blue mussel.
  • They then placed a mussel in to see how the fish competed for food.
  • In other cases, such as the zebra mussel and feral pigs, only control cost data are collected.
  • They are often seen with a clam or mussel and a rock that has been deftly snared from the ocean floor.
  • One mussel alone can cleanse as much as a gallon of water per hour.
  • That's bad news for water quality as a single mussel can filter up to a gallon of water per hour.
  • Sea stars move over a mussel and use their arms to pry open the mussel's shell.
  • Pull off and discard one shell from each mussel, and arrange mussels on the half shell on the spinach.
  • Students are guided through the life cycle of a freshwater mussel.
  • Many people ask about the difference between a mussel and a clam.
British Dictionary definitions for mussel


any of various marine bivalves of the genus Mytilus and related genera, esp M. edulis (edible mussel), having a dark slightly elongated shell and living attached to rocks, etc
any of various freshwater bivalves of the genera Anodonta, Unio, etc, attached to rocks, sand, etc having a flattened oval shell (a source of mother-of-pearl). The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, can be a serious nuisance in water mains
Word Origin
Old English muscle, from Vulgar Latin muscula (unattested), from Latin musculus, diminutive of mūs mouse
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mussel

Old English muscle, musscel "shellfish, mussel," from Late Latin muscula (source of Old French musle, Modern French moule, Middle Dutch mosscele, Dutch mossel, Old High German muscula, German Muschel), from Latin musculus "mussel," literally "little mouse," also "muscle;" like muscle, derived from mus "mouse" on the perceived similarity of size and shape. The modern spelling, distinguishing the word from muscle, first recorded c.1600, not fully established until 1870s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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