Share this entry

mussel Line breaks: mus¦sel
Pronunciation: /ˈmʌs(ə)l/

Definition of mussel in English:


Any of a number of bivalve molluscs with a brown or purplish-black shell:
Example sentences
  • The shop also has a wide range of seafood including tiger prawns, mussels, sea bream and breaded crab claws.
  • Add the vegetables, watercress and shelled mussels and clams to this, season to taste and serve.
  • Extract the meat from most of the mussels and discard the shells.


Old English mus(c)le, superseded by forms from Middle Low German mussel, Middle Dutch mosscele; ultimately from late Latin muscula, from Latin musculus (see muscle).

  • muscle from Late Middle English:

    The ancient Romans saw a resemblance between a flexing muscle in the upper arm and the movements of a mouse. Latin musculus, from mus ‘mouse’, meant ‘little mouse’ and also ‘muscle’. It entered English through French in the 14th century. The edible mollusc the mussel (Old English) is the same word, and the accepted spellings of both words remained variable into the 19th century.

Words that rhyme with mussel

bustle, muscle, Russell, rustle, tussle

Definition of mussel in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day innocuous
Pronunciation: ɪˈnɒkjʊəs
not harmful or offensive