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

After Harvard, Hough received a master’s degree from Georgia Tech and hoped to become a TV weatherman. Courtland Milloy, Washington Post, "A love of music led one woman to a lifetime of teaching, and a lifeline for some boys at risk," 26 June 2018 Philbin received a master’s degree in museum studies/arts administration from New York University. Jeffrey Fleishman,, "Ann Philbin and the art of the provocative are thriving at the Hammer Museum," 15 June 2018 John later obtained a master’s degree from Central Connecticut State College (now a university). Anne M. Hamilton,, "He Brought His Skill For Teaching, Knack For Colonial Buildings To Coventry," 15 July 2018 Carrasco received a master’s degree in jurisprudence from Loyola University in 2003, which qualifies her to work as a paralegal or to handle legal correspondence, according to a Chicago Tribune report. Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, "Group calls on Waukegan officials to denounce, stop associating with local activist," 10 July 2018 Two bedrooms on the first floor lead out to the pool and patio, and a staircase visible at the entry leads up to two more bedrooms and the master suite, which overlooks the ocean. Samantha Weiss Hills, Curbed, "A Fire Island house brings the spirit of sand and surf indoors," 9 July 2018 De la Cruz grew up poor in the South Bronx, despite a father who worked multiple jobs and a mother with a master’s degree. Matt Stieb, Daily Intelligencer, "The Return of the Poor People’s Campaign," 19 June 2018 The school announced this week that the main library in Mudd Center will be named in honor of Church Terrell, who also received her master’s degree from Oberlin. Angela Helm, The Root, "Oberlin’s Main Library to Be Named for Feminist and Civil Rights Activist Mary Church Terrell," 26 May 2018 Temple’s Fox School of Business held the top spot in a U.S. News and World Report list of over 200 online master’s in business administration programs for four consecutive years, including the 2018 rankings. Kelsey Gee, WSJ, "Temple University Fires a Dean Over Falsified M.B.A. Rankings Data," 13 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

While not particularly long, the narrative provides an easy way to try to master all of the game’s random trick shots, which will come in handy for those brave enough to venture online and play in competitions with strangers. Todd Martens,, "'Mario Tennis Aces' and the love of low-stakes competition," 12 July 2018 Confidence is hard to come by and even harder to master. Jessica Fecteau,, "Aerie's New Lingerie Campaign Includes Women with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses," 12 July 2018 Confidence is hard to come by and even harder to master. Blake Bakkila,, "This Underwear Model Posing in a Wheelchair Is Breaking Stereotypes and We Couldn’t Be Happier," 11 July 2018 But the toughest to master for Rudd involved a brief sight gag in which his suit malfunctions, zapping him to the size of a toddler. Eli Wolfe,, "‘Ant-Man’ Paul Rudd talks tiny insects and Skywalker Ranch," 2 July 2018 Meeler said, as opposed to requiring students to work with faculty members to master the material. Jeffrey Selingo, The Atlantic, "Colleges Are Letting Students Take Classes Over Again," 29 June 2018 From fashion icons to master painters to timelessly elegant architecture, for most of us Italian is synonymous with beauty and style. Lauren Hubbard, ELLE Decor, "How to Master a Modern Italian Look at Home," 28 June 2018 Between the hard a’s, nonexistent r’s, and the harsh tone, this Northern twang is quite hard to master. Southern Living, "Southerners Trying Boston Accents Is The Funniest Thing You'll See Today," 27 June 2018 Gesicki has been working with fellow rookie tight end Durham Smythe throughout the offseason to master the team's playbook. Jordan Mcpherson, miamiherald, "The Miami Dolphins' final rookie from the 2018 draft class is now under contract," 18 June 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

9 Oct 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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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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