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 master (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 master (audio) \ noun

Examples of master in a Sentence

Noun the master and mistress of the house She is a master of her craft. Adjective 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 To help create Kira, American Girl worked closely with author Erin Teagan, who has a master’s degree in science and traveled to Australia to get to know the local wildlife better. Rachel Desantis,, "Meet Kira, the 2021 American Girl Doll of the Year Who Fights to Protect the Environment," 31 Dec. 2020 Most recently, Rex started a master’s degree at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Amy Lavalley,, "Chesterton Tribune stops the presses after 136-year run," 30 Dec. 2020 Her mom is an educator who graduated with a master’s degree in teaching from The Citadel Graduate College, where unlike the cadet program, women have attended since the 1960s. Marisa Schultz, Fox News, "Rep.-elect Nancy Mace still recovering from June coronavirus bout: 'I was really, really sick'," 21 Dec. 2020 Former baseball player Chandler Avant will get a master’s degree after being drafted by the New York Mets in 2018. Michael Casagrande |, al, "A few football stars among 30 Alabama athletes graduating this weekend," 11 Dec. 2020 Like his brother, Clay Magnuson also received a master’s degree from SMU, Shapiro said. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, "Dallas entrepreneur who sold company for millions indicted in large marijuana trafficking case," 11 Dec. 2020 Kaigama has a master’s degree in human development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and a family studies degree from Western Michigan University. Todd Nelson, Star Tribune, "Care provider's new senior leaders target health inequities," 6 Dec. 2020 Clarke, who has a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania, taught courses at Hopkins and other colleges in the area. Jean Marbella,, "This time for real, says Mary Pat Clarke, as she leaves Baltimore City Council she’s served on 3 times over 45 years," 4 Dec. 2020 But there is also the effortless grace of Mr. Mount’s dry, conversational style, which recalls that of V.S. Pritchett, another master of understatement. Anna Mundow, WSJ, "‘Kiss Myself Goodbye’ Review: One Step Ahead of the Truth," 25 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective There is a private entrance to the master suite and office, a large guest suite with a bathroom and an ADU with a separate entry on the lower level. oregonlive, "On the market: Homes with a second, rental living space for relatives or tenants," 27 June 2020 The interior features high ceilings, custom millwork, and walnut floors and paneling, and the master suite has his-and-her baths and closets, a sitting area, and a balcony. TheWeek, "6 homes made for wine lovers," 27 June 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Each day, the father gave his son short, incremental assignments to complete, allowing the boy to master each concept completely before introducing a new skill. Pat Stoetzer,, "New tutoring center in Eldersburg aiming ‘to make each and every student self-reliant’," 9 Dec. 2020 Each recipe is simple to work through and easy to master, with one notable exception: The flour tortillas might take a newbie a few tries, but the effort of making your own from scratch is well worth the trouble. Janelle Bitker,, "The best cookbooks of 2020," 2 Dec. 2020 Score sports bras, leggings, jackets, and mens lounge and activewear for way less now through November 30, and get ready to master that Tree Pose. Erin Parker, Glamour, "42 Best Cyber Monday Clothing Deals to Shop in 2020," 29 Nov. 2020 As with any new technology, there are roadblocks to adoption: Clinicians need to master a steep learning curve that includes keeping track of new tests, drug approvals, clinical trials, and constantly changing treatment guidelines. Sarah Elizabeth Richards, Wired, "One Man’s Search for the DNA Data That Could Save His Life," 19 Nov. 2020 Cini pointed out that of all the tech skills to master, getting the Boomers to Zoom has an additional upside. Adam Tschorn, Los Angeles Times, "5 ways to effectively teach a Boomer to Zoom from 3,000 miles away," 21 Dec. 2020 Seiss said that’s the most difficult position to master in football. Mike Hutton,, "Merrillville’s JoJo Johnson is the 2020 Post-Tribune Football Offensive Player of the Year," 11 Dec. 2020 Among the more than 100 schools and public health programs using the common application there was a 20% increase in applications to master’s in public health programs for this year, to nearly 40,000, Kaiser Health News reports. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: Nov. 13-19," 22 Nov. 2020 We were also annoyed by the grabby brakes, whose all-or-nothing nature made smooth heel-and-toe downshifts difficult to master. Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2006 Honda Civic Si vs. Volkswagen GTI," 18 Nov. 2020

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

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Master.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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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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