Green’s Dictionary of Slang

muscle n.

[muscle v.]

1. pressure, threats or coercion.

[UK]P.B.S. Pinchback Letters 1 Apr. in Haskins Pinckney B. S. Pinchback (1973) 242: They resort to the muscle employed on your Police Juryp.
[US]A.J. Liebling ‘The Jollity Building’ in Just Enough Liebling (2004) 244: The hint is enough ordinarily. When it is not, Jack uses the muscle.
[US]W.P. McGivern Big Heat 146: Muscle has got him this far; now he had to use his head.
[US]P. Rabe Murder Me for Nickels (2004) 58: Any muscle you’ll show, Benotti will show.
[US]S. Longstreet Straw Boss (1979) 249: Your own boys don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell against professional muscle.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 215: You might need some extra muscle with this guy.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 43: Mo Jahelka – looking after Mickey C.’s interests – probably afraid to push too much muscle.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 140: This Jazz girl touches my fuckin’ soul, and I want to let her know I’m about something other than muscle.
[Aus]P. Temple Truth 57: He did some muscle for Gabby Simon [...] nearly killed a bloke.

2. (orig. US) strength, courage.

[US]N. Davis Northerner 203: I like Falls – I wish I had his muscle!
[US]J. Thompson Swell-Looking Babe 18: He had been the brains, and no small part of the muscle.
[US]G.V. Higgins Cogan’s Trade (1975) 35: I didn’t see nobody there Wednesdays had any muscle.
[Aus]G. Disher Paydirt [ebook] There was muscle here and not much else. But the job demanded muscle too.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 48: Why they just didn’t come in and shoot me? [...] Afraid of my muscle.
[UK]D. O’Donnell Locked Ward (2013) 247: New admission goin’ doolally, needed a bit of extra muscle.

3. a thug, esp. as a group of thugs hired to intimidate by using violence.

Liberty 11 Aug. 29/2: But still — goldarn it, he was getting the wrong kind of muscle! [DA].
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 296: ‘A cross,’ Mendy said to Ohls. ‘I heard you the first time.’ ‘You ordered three muscles,’ Ohls said. ‘What you got was three deputies from Nevada.’.
[UK]T. Lewis Plender [ebook] [P]lus the funds to call on as much muscle as I needed.
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 110: The Greek, he decides he needs some muscle.
[US]Batman No. 321 4: His hired muscle is still as inept as ever!
[UK]V. Headley Yardie 68: Chin managed to gather enough muscle under his command.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 47: He was the muscle for the Sica Brothers.
[Aus]P. Temple Black Tide (2012) [ebook] I’vew been somewhere illegally. They can buy muscle anywhere.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 15: The price [of Ecstasy] had tumbled and it was run mostly by teams of bouncers and obvious heavy muscles.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skinny Dip 187: She had been surprised [...] to learn [...] that her husband was now being protected by paid muscle.
[Aus]L. Redhead Peepshow [ebook] I think she’s made the hired muscle fall in love with her.
[US]Simon & Zorzi ‘Unconfirmed Reports’ Wire ser. 5 ep. 2 [TV script] There he is. An’ all the muscle he got.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 321: He saw a couple of guys he knew were muscle for the two bookmakers he owed money.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 151: There used to be music and good-time girls and muscle and money down here.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Zero at the Bone [ebook] The Nongs had hired out muscle for beatings, debt collections and rip-offs.
[US]T. Pluck Bad Boy Boogie [ebook] ‘[D]on’t think your muscle can stop me’.
[US]D. Winslow ‘Broken’ in Broken 32: [He] caught on as muscle with Diaz.

4. a bodyguard.

[UK]K. Richards Life 424: Jimmy Callaghan, my muscle for many years.
[US]C. Hiaasen Star Island (2011) 39: Who pulls up [...] but Cherry and her old lady! No muscle or nuthin, just the two of ’em.
[US]R.F. Coleman ‘Requiem for Spider’ in Pulp Ink [ebook] There was to be no muscle at the powwow. Each party was allowed to bring an unarmed and unaffiliated second as a sort of security blanket.

5. political influence, power, usu. based on threats or intimidation.

[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 43: June’s old man was a big wheel with a lot of muscle in the courts.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 316: He’s rich, he’s got muscle and he’s got gadgies like us kowtowing to him.
[US](con. 1949) G. Pelecanos Big Blowdown (1999) 147: They were the ones with the wheels and the departmental muscle.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 264: Big, powerful multinationals with marketing muscle will always see any such deal as just that – a deal.

6. (US) of an automobile, or motor cycle, speed, power.

[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 87: They still have plenty of muscle in the heavyweight class.
[US]G. Pelecanos Shame the Devil 200: ‘They’ll have a car for you on Monday.’ ‘I need something with a little muscle’.
[US]S.A. Crosby Blacktop Wasteland 1: A Maverick, two Impalas, a few Camaros and five or six more examples of the heyday of American muscle.

7. (US, also muscle missile) the penis [abbr. love muscle under love n.].

[[UK] ‘Clown’s Peep into the Seraglio’ in Batchelar’s Jovial Fellows Collection of Songs 3: When the grey mare is the better horse — and if the Ottomy ladies had but a little hedification at Billingsgate, the flat fish would soon prove themselves fine soles, and make it all hot cockles with the musclemen].
[[UK] ‘Catalogue of Odd Fish’ in Fleet-Street Collection 8: A lily white muscle’s a beau, / And hot cockles a game for the ladies].
[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 206: He saw twelve boots, six sitting on commodes, trousers down, and six standing at the urinals, muscles out.
[US]‘Troy Conway’ Cunning Linguist (1973) 152: Happily, I let her have her way and simply provided the necessary muscle and action.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 49: the penis [...] muscle.
[US]J. Wambaugh Finnegan’s Week 55: You’re slippin Mary the ol’ muscle missile, you little dickhead!

8. of an automobile, power.

[US]J. Ellroy Suicide Hill 80: [A] black '76 Trans Am with a four-speed and lots of muscle.

SE in sl. uses

9. used attrib. to emphasise one’s muscles or strength.

[US]C. Stella Charlie Opera 148: He was down to his royal blue bikini underwear and muscle T-shirt.

In compounds

muscle boy (n.)

1. (US) a thug.

[US]J.H. O’Hara Pal Joey 49: Dont let anybody tell you they got rid of the muscle boys.
[UK]I, Mobster 61: With a bunch of muscle boys you can only control just so much territory.
[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 192: This is how you get everything done, isn’t it? If you can’t con it, your muscle boys shake it out for you!
[UK]F. Norman Dead Butler Caper 124: Daddy’s put a couple of muscle boys on my door, and two more down the street to keep an eye on who comes in and out of the mews.
[UK](con. 1970) W. Sherman Times Square 32: These were the muscleboys, the tough guys all in black leather lined with brass studs.

2. (also muscle bum) a (homosexual) body builder; thus Muscle Beach, a beach that such bodybuilders frequent for display and exercise; thus muscle magazine [SE muscle + boy/bum n.3 (10)].

C. Isherwood World in Evening 240: Two silly Belgian girls and Pierre, the show-off muscle-boy.
[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 9: A few of the muscle bums were out playing volley ball. [Ibid.] 39: He had to [...] hang out at Muscle Beach.
[US]A. James America’s Homosexual Underground 102: Complaints of homosexual conduct involving not only the muscle boys themselves but with minors that had been lured into the group.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US]K. Vacha Quiet Fire 64: He hadn’t done anything about it, just fantasizing, buying muscle magazines.
G. Herren Murder in the Rue Dauphine 33: Muscle boys, big and dumb. Just like him. Mike’s perfect man was some big, dumb musclehead.
[US]C. Stella Charlie Opera 39: Dealing with the idiot bodybuilder [...] wasn’t making the problem any easier [...] Talking with this musclehead, Fein was even less impressed.
G. Valentino Death, Drugs & Muscle [ebook] So why don’t you go tell your muscle boy to go lift weights and take some steroids? As in, get the fuck lost.
muscle car (n.) (also muscle machine, muscle wagon)

1. a car built to withstand rugged conditions, e.g. a Land Rover.

[US]Pop. Mechanics Jan. 32/2: No concessions are made to style in this muscle-car; frills are. Nobody tried to prettify the [Land] Rover.

2. (orig. US) a motor vehicle that is specially modified to give high power and speed, thus muscle boat (see cite 2000).

[US]Pop. Science Oct. 62: [pic. caption] dodge coronet becomes ‘muscle car’ with Hemi-426 engine.
[US]Pop. Mechanics Nov. 13/3: Pontiac’s Trans Am is already the hot-set-up muscle car among young car nuts, but wait’ll they see the convertible version.
[US]‘Joe Bob Briggs’ Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In 83: This particular Merchant is cruisin through town in his muscle machine.
[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 95: A young man and a mature woman sitting in a candy-colored four-barrel muscle car.
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 24: The slim, dark girl [...] felt the big muscle car’s jungle-cat purr.
[Aus]P. Temple Dead Point (2008) [ebook] Big white muscle boats, here and there a yacht.
[US]D.R. Pollock ‘Schott’s Bridge’ in Knockemstiff 83: [F]inding dried jizz sparkling like doughnut glaze in the backseat of their junior’s muscle car.
[Aus]P. Temple Truth 31: HSV, that’s a muscle car, only driven by men with big balls.
[US]G. Pelecanos (con. 1972) What It Was 98: A white girl in white hot pants [was] negotiating with the muscle car’s occupants.
[Aus] D. Whish-Wilson ‘In Savage Freedom’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] The hard-looking kid in a muscle car, the concerned cop.
[US]L.A. Times 25 Sept. G2/1: The Vintage Rides Cruise [...] includes hot rods, classics, muscle cars [...] lead sleds.
[US]T. Pluck Boy from County Hell 235: [T]rampling fallen branches with the muscle wagon’s fat tires.
muscle fuck (n.) [fuck n. (1a)] (US)

1. the rubbing of the penis between a woman’s breasts.

[US] oral testimony in Lighter HDAS II 624: A [...] French fuck is when you rub your dick between her breasts. It’s also called a muscle fuck.

2. sexual intercourse in which the woman uses her vaginal muscles to intensify the experience.

[US] oral testimony in Lighter HDAS II 624: A muscle fuck is one where the Jane can contract the muscles in her vagina.

3. (gay) sexual intercourse where one man’s penis is resting between the other man’s buttocks while he flexes his buttock muscles.

[US] ‘The Bellman’ on Nifty Erotic Stories Archive 🌐 ‘Ever heard of a “muscle fuck”?’ With that he got down on the floor and started doing push-ups! [...] I pushed my hands against his rippling back muscles, sliding back over his hard ass. As I did my aching hard cock slipped into the crack between his wonderfully muscled cheeks. ‘Oh my GOD!’ With each rep he clenched that gloriously hot ass around my raging cock.
E. Summers Who’s Your Daddy? 256: It was a total muscle fuck. [...] the grunts and heavy breathing of a muscleboy giving his Daddy the ride of a lifetime.
muscle gay (n.) [gay n.1 (1)]

(US) a homosexual bodybuilder; thus muscle bitch, the lesbian equivalent; muscle movie, a film featuring bodybuilders.

[US]C. Cooper Jr Farm (1968) 96: She was a musclebitch, and I got a little hint of jasper.
[US]J. Rechy Numbers (1968) 64: Rage Storm [...] He’s a muscle gay — I mean guy.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US](con. 1940s) C. Bram Hold Tight (1990) 274: Forest [...] showed the muscle movies he ordered through the mail: nothing dirty, just crewcutted bodybuilders posing for each other in G-strings.
K. McGuire Cunado Arms Dealer 39: There is the Gym bar where they have these muscle gay dancers and waiters.
musclehead (n.) (also mussel-head) [SE muscle + -head sfx]

(US) a stupid if brawny man; thus attrib.

J. Toomer Cane 111: Mussel-heads get along, Muriel. There is more to you than that .
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 287: Muscle heads who couldn’t even parrot-back what you had rehearsed with them.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS.
[US](con. 1960s) R. Price Wanderers 54: Just let musclehead say one word.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct.
[US]T. Willocks Green River Rising 216: A white trash musclehead with tattoos.
[US](con. 1986) G. Pelecanos Sweet Forever 31: The white beat cop, a no-neck musclehead.
M.P. Sakowski Enterprise Zone 117: Matt was getting ready to lay an Australian peacemaker on a loud-mouthed musclehead that Jack knew from the gym.
[US]L. Berney Whiplash River [ebook] Typical musclehead DEA jerks.
muscleman (n.)

see separate entry.

muscle Mary (n.) [Mary n.]

(gay) a gay man devoted to bodybuilding and the resultant musculature.

Advocate 12 Oct. 10: Are you a bloody Mary, a muscle Mary, one of them queens that pumps up and then gets mad when people say you take too many steroids?
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Culture 11 July 2: A chunky bloke with a No 1 crop, skin-tight T-shirt and comically overdeveloped biceps of an Old Compton Street Muscle Mary.
[UK](con. 1980s) The Guardian 25 Jan. 🌐 ‘I remember seeing Leigh one night at the Fridge in Brixton, which was a Muscle Mary, body-culture enclave,’ says [Boy] George.
R.D. Nathaniel Last Chance 83: At six feet three inches tall, with legs that went on forever and a toned body that looked like he’d spent time in the gym, but wasn’t a ‘Muscle Mary’.
[US]Wash. Post 14 June 🌐 If you’re lucky, it’s a mixed crowd, muscle Marys and bois and femme fags and butch dykes and genderqueers.
muscle missile (n.)

see sense 6 above.

muscle shirt (n.) (also muscle tee)

(US) a T-shirt with very short sleeves or no sleeves, thus displaying the wearer’s physique.

Britannica Bk of Year 546/2: The only male fashion term to be noted is muscle shirt, a sleeveless T-shirt.
C. LeBaron Diamond Sky 55: Black hair coiffured back, aquamarine muscle shirt showing under the collar.
R. Burnsd Killing Zone 90: A young man in a yellow hardhat and stained muscle shirt.
[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 186: Jerry left first, opting to take his pastel muscle shirts and heat-seeking libido onto the first shift.
[US]J. Stahl Perv (2001) 84: He/she wore a satin muscle tee – the type we used to call wifebeaters.
[US]J. Lethem Fortress of Solitude 429: A stoney-eyed brother in net muscle-shirt and doo-rag.
M. Stern Men, Muscle & Mayhem 184: He always wears the same thing, blue shorts and yellow muscle shirt.
muscle-uncle (n.)

an ostentatiously ‘masculine’ homosexual.

[UK]Guardian Guide 22–28 Jan. 28: Danny Tenaglia’s after-hours party for the fashion crowd and crop-top muscle-uncles.

In phrases

bet on the muscle (v.)

(US Und.) to make wagers without any financial resources; if one loses one must face a fight or even a knifing.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 26/2: Bet on the muscle. (P) To make wagers in prison, having no money to pay if one loses. The loser faces the risk of having to fight, of being knifed or of having to ask for protective custody.
on the muscle (US)

1. (also on one’s muscle) quarrelsome, ready or poised to fight.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum 61: ‘The fellow travels on his muscle,’ he presumes on his abilities to fight [...] on the muscle On the fight; a fighter; a pugilist.
G.L. Barclay Adah Isaacs Menken 35: It would, perhaps, be wise for me to refrain from any remarks to the why, and wherefore, and furthermore, said surviving party being ‘on the muscle,’ [...] he might challenge me to ‘put up or shut up’.
[US]Northern Trib. (Cheboygan, MI) 5 Nov. 3/1: Hold your horses, he’s on his muscle and could ’lay you out!’.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 8 Feb. 7/2: [headline] The Preacher On His Muscle.
[UK]Mirror of Life 6 Jan. 4: [pic. caption] On His Muscle. / [...] / A Tough tries to gain Admission on the Strength of a Right-hander.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 138: On the Muscle. – Quarrelsome; overbearing.
[US]C. Himes ‘All God’s Chillun Got Pride’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 22: He needed being on his muscle, he needed his tight-faced scowl, his high-shouldered air of disdain, his hot, challenging stare.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]H. Ellison ‘A Boy and his Dog’ in Beast that Shouted Love (1976) 180: There was always some hardcase on the muscle.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 50: Psycho’s on the muscle now, and he’s got that little clique.

2. (US) for free, provided by someone else.

[US]N.E. Police Gaz. (Boston, MA) 18 Aug. n.p.: People do say that he is traveling on his muscle. I don’t see how they know [...] Mose W’s wife is also on her muscle.
[US]I. Shulman Cry Tough! 137: ‘You know that this time it won’t be on the muscle?’ Mitch nodded. ‘I know.’ ‘And she’s not a ten dollar job.’.

3. (US) using (a threat of) violence.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 5 May 1: [pic. caption] actress was on her muscle / fair burlesquer thumps the star in a theatre.
[US]C. Himes ‘Strictly Business’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 140: The way Big Angelo’s mob operated was strictly on the muscle.
[US](con. 1920s) ‘Harry Grey’ Hoods (1953) 297: They shook down speakeasies and bookmakers [...] They operated as we did, on the muscle.
[US]B. Hecht Gaily, Gaily 87: Stick-up men called ‘on the muscle’ boys.
[US](con. 1920s) J. Brown Monkey Off My Back (1972) 19: We would be forced to operate ‘on the muscle’.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 362: [They] think they can take over on the muscle.

4. working as protection for a top gangster.

[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 11: The men around him — ‘on the muscle for Johnny Friendly’ is the way they were usually described.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 810: on the muscle – Same as ‘Muscle’.

5. nervous, edgy.

[US]J. Hersey Algiers Motel Incident 127: Maybe when you talk to him you’ll think he’s on the muscle [....] sort of defensive.
put the muscle on (v.)

(US Und.) to coerce, to threaten with violence.

[US]A.J. Liebling ‘The Jollity Building’ in Just Enough Liebling (2004) 245: When he drinks, he sometimes threatens to put the muscle on strangers who refuse to pay for his liquor.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 170/2: Put the muscle on. To employ force or the threat of force.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 114: I hope my double hasn’t put the muscle on this broad for some [...] scratch.
[US]E. Weiner Big Boat to Bye-Bye 179: ‘I’d want you to [...] “put the muscle on them” or whatever’.