Stiffen the sinews
What's the meaning of the phrase 'Stiffen the sinews'?
To stiffen the sinews is to, by one's own efforts, become resolute and purposeful. The sinews are the fibrous cords that connect bone to muscle - we stiffen them when we prepare for action.
What's the origin of the phrase 'Stiffen the sinews'?
The expression 'stiffen the sinews' comes from the celebrated 'Once more unto the breach' speech, from Shakespeare's Henry V, 1598:
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood...