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
For that new mission, Grant needed cabinet members, staff and advisers every bit as masterful as his wartime lieutenants.
The picture on the box, of a miniaturized football field and the two teams on it, was a masterful exaggeration, guaranteeing that what was inside would never match the hype and would soon end up under my bed with that boomerang that never came back.
In late 2014, D'Angelo sprang out of a years-long exile to deliver a masterful comeback album, Black Messiah.
That something is more than just Hussain’s masterful command of the tablas, two tuned hand drums that have been pillars of the Hindustani classical music of northern India since at least the 1800s.
Eye-catching and joyful in bold primary colors, the sculptures make masterful use of negative space.
Eight plays later, Wolf launched a masterful pass to the back of the end zone, finding Jared Kreimer in stride with no time left on the clock and no more space to work with.
Somehow, despite his masterful attempt to conceal his sexist comments behind a hypothetical, Walker still came under fire for his remarks.
The only thing better, in our humble opinion, is pairing this masterful Sleep Story with Sleep Mist.
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
Synonymsadroit, artful, bravura, deft, delicate, dexterous (also dextrous), expert, skillful, masterly, practiced (also practised), virtuoso, workmanlike
Antonymsamateur, amateurish, artless, rude, unprofessional, unskillful
Related Wordsfacile, smooth; artistic, creative, fancy, ingenious, neat; adept, clever, cunning; able, adequate, capable, competent
Near Antonymsawkward, clumsy, crude, klutzy; ineffective, ineffectual; incompetent, inept
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
MASTERFUL Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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