masterful was our Word of the Day on 05/02/2015. Hear the podcast!
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masterful vs. masterly
Examples of masterful in a Sentence
His manner was masterful and abrupt.
a masterful work of art
He did a masterful job of staying out of trouble.
Recent Examples of masterful from the Web
Of course the seafaring Swahili people are masterful fishermen, many still using the traditional dhows, canoes carved from mango trees, and bamboo fish traps.
Here, Seol is at his most masterful, a powerhouse of dignity through his juddering restraint as Quang first puckishly and then vehemently steers the interview toward what really matters.
The cultural broker’s real secret, said Tina Roberts, co-founder of the Roberts Family Development Center, is their masterful tact.
Yet that is a minor shortcoming in a masterful account of the drama and science of scouting.
Its masterful interpretation of this maligned grape is both a revelation and a reminder that grape variety alone cannot sum up a wine’s quality potential.
And now the orchestration and the masterful work of the composers is being presented on Friday.
Stewart, helped by her longtime stylist Tara Swennen and makeup artist Jillian Dempsey, sought to create a masterful reworking on Chanel's iconic slicked hair and demure yet direct lip paired with pieces in black and white.
Through exhaustive historical footnotes Junot Díaz tells the story of this massacre, which cursed successive generations of Dominicans, in his masterful The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'masterful.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Some commentators insist that masterful must only mean "domineering," reserving the "expert, skillful" sense for masterly. The distinction is a modern one. In earlier times, the terms were used interchangeably, with each having both the "domineering" and "expert" senses. The "domineering" sense of masterly fell into disuse around the 18th century, however, and in the 20th century the famous grammarian H. W. Fowler decided that masterful should be similarly limited to a single meaning. He summarily ruled that the "expert" definition of masterful was incorrect. Other usage writers followed his lead. But the "expert" meaning of masterful has continued to flourish in standard prose in spite of the disapproval, and, considering the sense's long history, it cannot really be called an error.
First Known Use of masterful
arrogant, bumptious, cavalier, chesty, haughty, high-and-mighty, high-handed, high-hat, highfalutin (also hifalutin), huffish, huffy, imperious, important, lofty, lordly, overweening, peremptory, pompous, presuming, presumptuous, pretentious, self-asserting, self-assertive, sniffy, supercilious, superior, uppish, uppity;
complacent, conceited, egocentric, egoistic (also egoistical), egotistic (or egotistical), narcissistic, prideful, proud, self-affected, self-applauding, self-centered, self-complacent, self-conceited, self-pleased, self-satisfied, smug, stuck-up;
Synonym Discussion of masterful
- her masterful personality soon dominated the movement
- children controlled by domineering parents
- an imperious executive used to getting his own way
- given a peremptory dismissal
- an imperative appeal for assistance
MASTERFUL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of masterful for English Language Learners
: able to take control of people or situations
: very skillful
MASTERFUL Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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