mas·​ter | \ˈmas-tər \

Definition of master 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a(1) : a male teacher

(2) : a person holding an academic degree higher than a bachelor's but lower than a doctor's also : the degree itself

b often capitalized : a revered religious leader

c : a worker or artisan qualified to teach apprentices — compare apprentice entry 1 sense 1b, journeyman sense 1

d(1) : an artist, performer, or player of consummate (see consummate entry 1 sense 1) skill

(2) : a great figure of the past (as in science or art) whose work serves as a model or ideal

2a : one having authority over another : ruler, governor This decisive battle left him master of Europe.

b : one that conquers or masters : victor, superior in the new challenger the champion found his master

c : a person licensed to command a merchant ship

d(1) : one having control proved himself master of the situation

(2) : an owner especially of a slave or animal

e : the employer especially of a servant

f(1) dialect : husband

(2) : the male head of a household

3a(1) archaic : mr.

(2) : a youth or boy too young to be called mister used as a title

b : the eldest son of a Scottish viscount or baron (see baron sense 2a)

4a : a presiding (see preside sense 2) officer in an institution or society (such as a college)

b : any of several officers of court appointed to assist (as by hearing and reporting) a judge

5a : a master mechanism (see mechanism sense 1) or device

b : an original from which copies can be made especially : a master recording (such as a magnetic tape)



Definition of master (Entry 2 of 3)

: being or relating to a master: such as

a : having chief authority : dominant

b : skilled, proficient a prosperous master builderCurrent Biography

c : principal, predominant

d : superlative often used in combination a master-liar

e : being a device or mechanism that controls the operation of another mechanism or that establishes a standard (such as a dimension or weight)

f : being or relating to a master from which duplicates are made


mastered; mastering\-​t(ə-​)riŋ \

Definition of master (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to become master of : overcome mastered his fears

2a : to become skilled or proficient in the use of master a foreign language

b : to gain a thorough understanding of had mastered every aspect of publishingCurrent Biography

3 : to produce a master recording of (something, such as a musical rendition)

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Other Words from master


mastership \-​ˌship \ noun

Examples of master in a Sentence


As a slave he was required to do his master's bidding without question. The dog was always obedient to its master. the master and mistress of the house She is a master of her craft.


thought of themselves as belonging to humanity's master race a master craftsman who makes fine wood furniture of his own designs


She mastered French in college. He is determined to master every aspect of the business.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Pet owners on social media are reporting that this is exciting (or upsetting) their dogs, who can’t figure out why their master is being so mean to them. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "The Pokémon: Let’s Go Poké Ball controller is psyching out dogs," 20 Nov. 2018 Coming from Ireland, the fashion world in London sometimes felt out of reach—upon moving over and studying my masters in London, all of these opportunities which once felt so far away were suddenly a possibility. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Menswear’s New Guard Won’t Conform: Meet the Designers Shaking Up Fashion East This January," 13 Nov. 2018 The footage appears to tell a familiar series story of Zim and Dib facing off, Zim facing disapproval from his alien masters, and Gir acting like an idiot. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "First Invader Zim movie footage revealed, looks gloriously weird," 20 July 2018 More amusing than their masters are the maids and serving men: Richard Eisloeffel as Valentine's snarky servant, Speed; Stephanie Mattos as Proteus's hilarious help, Launce; and Shanna Sweeney as Julia's mordant minion, Lucetta. Irene Hsiao, Chicago Reader, "Two Gentlemen of Verona," 13 July 2018 Whatever his human masters did for poor Gus, life as a Manhattanite never sat quite right. David Scharfenberg,, "Did humans drive this polar bear insane?," 13 July 2018 Apprentices have always dreamed of surpassing their master. The Economist, "Donald Trump insists on trade reciprocity. But what kind?," 12 July 2018 During the latest episode of NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series, comedian Dave Chappelle made a cameo appearance to introduce his long-time friend harmonica master Frédéric Yonnet. Alessandra Rincón, Billboard, "Dave Chappelle Makes Cameo At Frédéric Yonnet's 'Tiny Desk Concert': Watch," 11 July 2018 Marie Antoinette, at first bewildered by the rules and conventions of the French court, soon becomes its master, leading fashion, gossip and bon gout — while still claiming to care about none of it., "Why Marie Antoinette Is Really Mean Girls, Versailles Edition," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Is Keaton physically hunky enough to play the master CIA death machine? Michael Heaton,, "'American Assassin' is fast and furious fun (review)," 15 Sep. 2017 Refugees need not master German before applying, though they will be required to learn it while studying there. Kristen Chick, The Christian Science Monitor, "How do refugee students make the jump to Germany's universities?," 24 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The book is beautifully illustrated with simple line drawings to help even the most clumsy camper, climber or sailor to master any number of handy knots. Claire Cock-starkey, WSJ, "What to Give: Reference Books," 15 Nov. 2018 Learn to master the first date and never let your nerves get in the way again by following these 7 tips! Seventeen, "7 Tips to Rock Your First Date!," 30 Oct. 2018 From tackling that tricky—and oftentimes, messy—mixer, to perfecting crafty icing on top, this two-hour class will give you the skills to master that perfect housewarming treat. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "The Best Cooking and Baking Classes in New York City," 18 Oct. 2018 For all its trappings, the modern technocratic world has encouraged us to treat nature as an object, something to be mastered and instrumentalized. Sean Illing, Vox, "How meditation and psychedelic drugs could reduce political partisanship," 17 Oct. 2018 Marine F-35s are scheduled to accompany Queen Elizabeth on future cruises, so their jets and crews will also eventually learn to master this landing trick. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "U.K. F-35s Will Use Strange Rolling Carrier Landings," 16 Oct. 2018 With the levers of state power again solely in his hands, Hun Sen began to master electoral democracy with Machiavellian skill. Fox News, "Hun Sen plays hardball to keep his grip on Cambodia," 31 July 2018 Lana Condor is just at the beginning of her career as a major Hollywood star, but she's already mastered the art of the actor turned model role. Alyssa Hardy, Teen Vogue, "Lana Condor Wore a $6 Bra as a Top and It's My New Winter Style Obsession," 13 Nov. 2018 Forget being a jack of all trades, the Kindle is content mastering one. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018) review: the new best-seller," 7 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'master.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of master


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


12th century, in the meaning defined above


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for master


Middle English, from Old English magister & Anglo-French meistre, both from Latin magister; akin to Latin magnus large — more at much


see master entry 1


see master entry 1

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Statistics for master

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for master

The first known use of master was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for master



English Language Learners Definition of master

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: highly skilled

: largest or most important

—used to describe an original version from which other copies can be made



English Language Learners Definition of master (Entry 2 of 2)

: to succeed in controlling (something, such as an emotion)

: to learn (something) completely : to get the knowledge and skill that allows you to do, use, or understand (something) very well


mas·​ter | \ˈma-stər \

Kids Definition of master

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : someone having authority over another person, an animal, or a thing the slave's master the master of a ship

2 : a male teacher

3 : an artist or performer of great skill He is a master at making desserts.

4 used as a title for a young boy too young to be called mister Master Timothy Roe


mastered; mastering

Kids Definition of master (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to get control of You must master your fear.

2 : to become skillful at I managed to master arithmetic.



Legal Definition of master 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an individual or entity (as a corporation) having control or authority over another: as

a : the owner of a slave

b : employer — compare servant

c : principal sense 1a

2 : an officer of the court appointed (as under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 53) to assist a judge in a particular case by hearing and reporting on the case, sometimes by making findings of fact and conclusions of law, and by performing various related functions

Note: Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a master may be a magistrate or else may be a person with some special expertise in the matter. The word master as used in the Federal Rules encompasses a referee, an auditor, an examiner, and an assessor. If the master makes findings of fact, they are reviewable de novo by the court except when the parties have stipulated that the findings will be reviewed for clear error or that the master's findings are to be final.



Legal Definition of master (Entry 2 of 2)

: being the principal or controlling one : governing a number of subordinate like things a master insurance policy

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More from Merriam-Webster on master

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with master

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for master

Spanish Central: Translation of master

Nglish: Translation of master for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of master for Arabic Speakers

Comments on master

What made you want to look up master? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

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