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

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 : one having control proved himself master of the situation
e : an owner especially of an animal
f : the employer especially of a servant
g : a person who holds another person in slavery
h(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 master (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 master (audio) \ noun

Examples of master in a Sentence

Noun the master and mistress of the house She is a master of her craft. Adjective a master craftsman who makes fine wood furniture of his own designs Verb 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 After her husband became president, Ms. Sadat received a bachelor’s degree in Arab literature from Cairo University, followed by a master’s degree in 1980 and a doctorate in comparative literature in 1986. New York Times, 10 July 2021 He was encouraged by his elders to get a master’s degree in archaeology and help the tribe better understand the methods of the profession. Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Anchorage Daily News, 9 July 2021 Garcetti has a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and studied international relations as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University. Los Angeles Times, 9 July 2021 He was encouraged by his elders to get a master’s degree in archaeology and help the tribe better understand the methods of the profession. Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Washington Post, 8 July 2021 Then, while serving full-time in the Air Force, Hunter earned a master’s degree in physics from Ohio State University and later a doctorate. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 July 2021 After graduating, Eileen started a master’s degree in Irish literature, and Alice got a job in a coffee shop and began writing a novel. Sally Rooney, The New Yorker, 5 July 2021 Handa’s father, Vikas, is an IT entrepreneur, and his mother Mona holds a master’s degree in social work and psychology from Delhi University. Shawn Mcfarland,, 4 July 2021 According to master distiller Kevin O’Gorman, unlike some shuttered ghost or silent distilleries in Scotland, Old Midleton will not find new life in the coming years. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 25 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective There is a private entrance to the master suite and office, a large guest suite with a bathroom and an ADU with a separate entry on the lower level. oregonlive, 27 June 2020 The interior features high ceilings, custom millwork, and walnut floors and paneling, and the master suite has his-and-her baths and closets, a sitting area, and a balcony. TheWeek, 27 June 2020 Is Keaton physically hunky enough to play the master CIA death machine? Michael Heaton,, 15 Sep. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Unfortunately, the boundary between that and getting caught up in a cyclone of doom and consume is a difficult thing to master. Sam White, Wired, 12 July 2021 The art of getting lost is increasingly hard to master. Robert Macfarlane, The New York Review of Books, 15 June 2021 Detractors fear that this might make the language even more difficult to master. Alex Ledsom, Forbes, 10 Mar. 2021 Fourth of July is on the horizon and, like the rest of America, BA staffers are attempting to master this whole outdoor-summer-entertaining thing. Mehreen Karim, Bon Appétit, 1 July 2021 Use these tips to master lip liner once and for all. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, 30 June 2021 Neevah finds both tragedy and unexpected healing in the curveballs her lupus throws her way, and Ryan writes affectingly of the rigor required to master the mental obstacle course of such a diagnosis. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 30 June 2021 Most of the articles that cover the cocktail focus on bartenders, and bar and restaurant programs but the Cosmo is one drink that is easy to master at home. Elizabeth Karmel, Forbes, 26 June 2021 But Tebow’s unorthodox throwing motion and inaccuracy against faster defenses, coupled with an inability to master an NFL offense, cut short his career in Denver. Edgar Thompson,, 20 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for master

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for master

Last Updated

15 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Master.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

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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 : a male teacher
2 : an artist or performer of great skill He is a master at making desserts.
3 someone with authority over something the master of a ship
4 the owner of a slave
5 the owner of an animal
6 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

More from Merriam-Webster on master

Nglish: Translation of master for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of master for Arabic Speakers


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