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
Boone’s masterful redesign of the Palley Pavilion enhances the exhibition's focus and creates a sense intimacy.
During the winter, when stews are a comfort-food supper, the pot does a masterful job of braising meats and vegetables to fork-tender morsels.
Hanson’s uncannily lifelike depictions of everyday people are always fascinating in their detailed observation and masterful fakery.
Getty Images Riverdale is nothing if not masterful at hooking viewers with a gripping mystery.
Sure, drummer Carter Beauford starts things off with a bang (pun intended) but it’s Tinsley’s masterful turn at the violin that gets the masses dancing.
The show enters season two with the same cool, precise aesthetic that made the first season such a visual gem, including a masterful use of the color red — for blood, for martyrdom — and sets that are simultaneously old and sterile.
This speaks to Shin's true talent—not as a particularly deft killer but as a masterful liar.
Judging by the masterful popping and wiggling on the dance floor, the joint-loosening frequencies seem able to rubberize human bones.
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.
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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