mas·​ter | \ ˈma-stər How to pronounce master (audio) \

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
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\ ˈma-​st(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce mastering (audio) \

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 \ ˈma-​stər-​ˌship How to pronounce mastership (audio) \ 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

Rountree went on to earn a master’s degree in orchestral conducting at the University of Michigan. Catherine Womack, La Cañada Valley Sun, "Christopher Rountree’s pursuit of music magic inspired by Descanso Gardens," 6 Sep. 2019 The Owensboro native is a Western Kentucky University graduate and has a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York City., "How the Courier Journal revealed the story of Rachael Denhollander's life-changing sacrifice," 4 Sep. 2019 The Renaissance Woman: Ani Liu Artist/scientist With a master’s degree from MIT, Liu is blurring the line between arts and sciences with her creations. Hana Hong, Marie Claire, "25 People Changing the Beauty Industry," 3 Sep. 2019 Franklin had graduated from Alabama State College in 1962 and wanted to get a master’s degree in history from Auburn University. Greg Garrison |, al, "First black student at Auburn University reflects on Gov. Kay Ivey," 30 Aug. 2019 Professor Johnson received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Kay Ann Johnson, 73, Who Studied China’s One-Child Policy, Dies," 29 Aug. 2019 Singh, who received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UConn and a doctorate from the University of Hartford, was named principal of the magnet school in 2016, according to an article in The Courant. Jesse Leavenworth,, "Principal of magnet school in East Hartford resigns," 29 Aug. 2019 As explained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the CCSD and the CCEA agreed to a salary system that would give teachers a raise for pursuing higher education beyond a master’s degree. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "After Her Viral Tik Tok Calling for a Student Strike, Nevada Teen Gillian Sullivan Says Her Classmates Are Still Ready to Mobilize," 29 Aug. 2019 Smith graduated from Lafayette College in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and then earned a master’s degree in business administration from the Chicago Graduate School of Business. Dylan Segelbaum, USA TODAY, "Former Pa. scoutmaster, citizen of the year focus of inquiry into decades of sex abuse," 28 Aug. 2019

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

Several Western beauty brands have also mastered the K-beauty staple in their own ways. Allure, "17 Long-Lasting Lip Tints and Lip Stains for People Who Aren’t Afraid of Commitment," 9 Sep. 2019 Now celebrating their 15th year, co-owner and Chef Ciro Perrella has mastered the magical formula at Positano. Claire Perez,, "Positano’s Zuppa di Mussels: ‘Everyone loves dunking their bread in the garlicky tomato sauce’," 30 Aug. 2019 Expand and generalize to other people, settings and activities Using modeling and prompting strategies to add new words to phrases the children have already mastered. J. Ganz, The Conversation, "5 tips for parents to build communication skills with children with autism spectrum disorder," 8 Aug. 2019 Some candidates have mastered the social-media fundamentals better than others. Bloomberg, The Mercury News, "Facebook Is big winner in Democrats’ 2020 presidential debates," 22 July 2019 Lego has mastered all the above, with one of the highlights being life-size Lego statues that attract throngs of fans who pose with stormtroopers, Thanos and Batman. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "Lego Bringing Life-Size Iron Man to Comic-Con (Exclusive)," 15 July 2019 The Vietnamese have mastered mummifying, according to Reuters, but Russian scientists regularly help the government with maintenance of the body – a chemical process that used to be a Soviet secret. Fox News, "Vietnam seeks Russian scientists to help preserve Ho Chi Minh's body," 20 June 2019 Arcega-Whiteside, something of a technician, seems to hate being the new guy who hasn’t mastered all the details. Les Bowen,, "J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is showing red-zone talents the Eagles were looking for when they drafted him," 5 June 2019 And for guys who want to master the art of man jewelry? Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Anwar Hadid Wants Everyone to Wear His Unisex Jewelry Label," 8 Apr. 2019

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

Noun, Adjective, and Verb

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

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Statistics for master

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

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 3)

: someone (especially a man) who has a servant or slave
: someone (especially a man) who owns a pet (such as a dog)
formal : the male head of a household



English Language Learners Definition of master (Entry 2 of 3)

: 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 3 of 3)

: 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 How to pronounce master (audio) \

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
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

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recurring in steady succession

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