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 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 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. Adjective thought of themselves as belonging to humanity's master race 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 An increase in San Antonians earning associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees is something to celebrate. Greg Jefferson,, "San Antonio’s high rate of student-loan defaults has a bright side: More people are studying for degrees.," 14 Nov. 2019 Their mother has a master’s degree and is in social work. oregonlive, "Oregon Ducks cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. making a name for himself, has something to prove at USC," 2 Nov. 2019 Alexander Vindman’s master’s degree, from Harvard, is in Russian, Eastern Europe, and Central Asian Studies. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "How Trump’s Supporters Distort Alexander Vindman’s Very American Origin Story," 31 Oct. 2019 Jenna Schardt, 25, is studying for her masters in occupational therapy at Brenau University in Georgia. Allen Kim, CNN, "A woman allowed her brain surgery to be livestreamed on Facebook. She was awake for most of it.," 30 Oct. 2019 Mr Figes is best known as a chronicler of Russia itself, and of the ways its cultural and political masters have juggled indigenous traditions with those from the West. The Economist, "A single market in culture emerged in the 19th century," 24 Oct. 2019 Whether learning a trade, growing language skills, earning a high school diploma or a bachelor’s or master’s degree, Disney Aspire puts career dreams within reach and enables cast members to pursue their educational goals at 11 network schools. Advertorial, Orange County Register, "News: Free Education Program for Cast Members Expands," 22 Oct. 2019 That was a hassle for Trujillo who’d spent a year in Scotland earning her masters in artificial intelligence. Victoria Stunt, Quartz, "Meet the web evangelist who brought Colombia online," 15 Oct. 2019 The art of taking a selfie is a tough one to master, but clearly Hoda Kotb has it down pat. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Today' Show Fans Have So Many Feelings About Hoda Kotb's Group Instagram," 12 Oct. 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 Bowman has already mastered the art of huddling would-be tacklers. al, "Inside Alabama and Auburn recruiting of The Southern 120 running backs," 27 Aug. 2019 Luckily, Murphy has mastered the art of pantry organization — from storing cereal in clear containers to finding the perfect place for those miscellaneous items. Stacia Affelt, Good Housekeeping, "How to Take Your Pantry From Zero to Hero," 14 Aug. 2019 Not having mastered all Russian’s finer points didn’t keep Stalin from ruling the Soviet Union with a murderously effective iron hand. The Economist, "Why widely spoken languages have simpler grammar," 8 Aug. 2019 European automakers have truly mastered the art of making high-performance SUVs that are both comfortable and an absolute blast to drive, and the 2019 Cayenne E-Hybrid aptly shows Porsche's mastery. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, "Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid first drive: This plug-in hybrid is a blast," 24 July 2019 According to Nowlin, the most successful throwers have mastered technique rather than strength. Edward Lee,, "As ax-throwing surges in popularity, Urban Open tournament returns to Baltimore," 19 July 2019 In his nearly 52 years of living, Detroit native Garrett Street has mastered the art of listening — with his nose. Scott Talley, Detroit Free Press, "Garrett Street started a Detroit baseball program from scratch to help kids," 13 July 2019 Since then, the half-human, half-magical alien teen has mastered his powers, learned the truth about his heritage and used kindness and compassion to dismantle a dangerously rigid space empire. Los Angeles Times, "‘Steven Universe: The Movie’ gives its hero a new superpower: The ability to grow up," 30 Aug. 2019 The microbes, in turn, had mastered the art of freeing up the nutrients that plants needed from the soil — phosphorus especially, but also nitrogen; there is evidence that microbes help plants gain access to water as well. Quanta Magazine, "Soil’s Microbial Market Shows the Ruthless Side of Forests," 27 Aug. 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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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

20 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Master.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 November 2019.

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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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