The ossicles are tiny bones in the ear which conduct sound. There are three of them arranged in a chain. They are connected to the eardrum at one end the oval window of the cochlea in the inner ear at the other.
The first ossicle is the malleus. This means hammer. It is connected to the eardrum at one and the incus, meaning anvil, at the other. The incus is connected to the stapes, stirrup. This is connected to the cochlea.
The bones are arranged in a chain which uses leverage to amplify the sound energy vibrations. This helps us to hear quiet sounds. The stapedius is a tiny muscle which stabilises the stapes. This tenses when a loud noise occurs, protecting the sensitive auditory components from damage. When it tenses it limits the vibration of the stapes and so limits the amount of energy which is transmitted to the inner ear. The stapedius is the smallest muscle in the human body. It tenses when you shout which is why everything around you sounds quieter. Try it!
Sometimes the energy is too much for the drapes it's to handle. Deafness and tinnitus can occur as a result of noise-induced hearing loss.