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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.
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 mussels
  • The mussels clear the water causing it to warm more than normal, in turn encouraging growth of algae.
  • mussels and clams are in abundance, although some poor families make do with lobster.
  • No such thing as zebra mussels back then, or any concern about water pollution, either.
  • Corals use the calcite carbonate form while oysters, mussels etc use aragonite.
  • If water is not available at the picnic site, bring enough to scrub clams and mussels.
  • mussels swam in a thick brown peppercorn sauce that congealed after a few minutes on the table.
  • Biochemists turn to mussels for a real bonding experience.
  • Nautilus sample bristles with mussels and barnacles.
  • Its nobles sat on stools made of blue-whale vertebrae and ate all the dried anchovies and mussels they desired.
  • Oysters and mussels will not be able to build shells.
British Dictionary definitions for mussels


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 mussels



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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