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 : a person who is in control of something (such as a situation) She wanted to be the master of her own fate.
e : an owner especially of an animal They looked around for the dog's master.
f in historical contexts : the owner of a slave
g : an employer especially of a servant
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 combinationa 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

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 Zorach, a student working on his master’s degree, said the late change could have posed problems for people with only a limited slot of time to go to the polls. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit polling places open late after some workers no-show for Michigan primary election," 4 Aug. 2020 With a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, Lewis, 39, spent much of her career in New York, most recently as vice president for health system services at the Greater New York Hospital Association. Kenneth R. Gosselin,, "Q & A with Hartford HealthCare’s chief of health equity on the pandemic, killing of George Floyd: ‘It is very much a call to action'," 3 Aug. 2020 The downstairs master suite has a sitting area with a fireplace. Dallas News, "Firm relishes busy summer selling luxury homes," 2 Aug. 2020 When Sebastian Lang-Lessing invited violinist Vadim Gluzman to take part in a new project connecting top-flight musicians with students for one-on-one online master classes, the musician immediately flashed back to himself as a teenager. Deborah Martin,, "Former San Antonio Symphony Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing’s new venture connects students with classical music stars," 31 July 2020 On Thanksgiving Day, 1778, some months after the death of her former master, Phillis married John Peters, a free Black man who owned a Boston grocery. Elizabeth Winkler, The New Yorker, "How Phillis Wheatley Was Recovered Through History," 30 July 2020 While taking care of his clients during the pandemic Ogletree is finishing his master's degree in social work at Campbellsville University in Kentucky. Sierra Newton,, "Angels Among Us: Cincinnati caregiver learns to remain a constant in a time of uncertainty," 10 June 2020 After obtaining a master’s degree in library sciences from Wayne State, Mr. Acerri began a career in research, at both the Wayne County Intermediate School District and Wayne State University. Jennifer Steinhauer,, "Federico Acerri, who answered students’ questions, dies at 81," 8 June 2020 Weatherly earned his master's degree in public administration from UW-Madison. Devi Shastri, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Gov. Tony Evers names three new UW regents, including Title IX lawyer who represented Quintez Cephus accusers," 1 June 2020 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, "On the market: Homes with a second, rental living space for relatives or tenants," 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, "6 homes made for wine lovers," 27 June 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Ecological differentiation within the red and white oaks is influenced in part by the fact that no single species is able to master every habitat. Andrew L. Hipp, Scientific American, "How Oak Trees Evolved to Rule the Forests of the Northern Hemisphere," 15 July 2020 Avoiding a season where teams race to master a dominant strategy was a focus for OWL. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "How Overwatch League’s Summer Showdown gave fans a little March Madness in July," 8 July 2020 Hair Love got its start in 2017 through a Kickstarter campaign and went on to receive viral attention from online audiences with a story about a Black father attempting to master styling his young daughter's hair. Nick Romano,, "Oscar-winning Hair Love short film will get a TV spin-off for HBO Max," 7 July 2020 Aspiring mathematicians and scientists of any age can learn how to master this model at their own pace with TI-Nspire™ CX Student Software, which is included with your purchase. Popular Science, "Reliable calculators for school, home, and work," 19 Mar. 2020 The company has drawn attention for its ambitious goal to master the complex streets of bustling cities in its initial stages, rather than testing in less complicated environments and gradually expanding. Jay Greene, Washington Post, "Amazon buys self-driving car firm Zoox, suggesting a future of automated deliveries," 26 June 2020 Free to master their fates and captain their souls. Lauren Groff, The Atlantic, "The Dark Soul of the Sunshine State," 21 June 2020 New to LinkedIn and looking for tips on how to master it? Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY, "'You're crazy if you're not using LinkedIn': How to master the business social network," 13 June 2020 In Parma, 100 teachers will be Google certified by the end of the summer to master online tools and serve as mentors to other teachers. Emily Bamforth, cleveland, "Fall learning could look different at each of Ohio’s 620 school districts, with state in supporting role," 12 June 2020

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

7 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Master.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for master


How to pronounce master (audio)

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 misterMaster 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for master

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with master

Spanish Central: Translation of master

Nglish: Translation of master for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of master for Arabic Speakers

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