mas·​sa ˈma-sə How to pronounce massa (audio)
plural massas
offensive; see usage paragraph below
: master
Usage of Marse and Massa

Historically, the words marse and massa were used in writing to represent spoken alterations of the word master that were associated especially with the speech of enslaved African Americans. In modern contexts, the word massa is considered offensive, especially when used by a person who is not Black to imitate stereotypes of African American English or to make reference to slavery. The use of marse is usually limited to historical contexts and may be considered offensive in modern ones.

Word History


by alteration

First Known Use

1766, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of massa was in 1766

Dictionary Entries Near massa

Cite this Entry

“Massa.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

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