mas·​ter·​mind | \ ˈma-stər-ˌmīnd How to pronounce mastermind (audio) , ˌmas-tər-ˈ\

Definition of mastermind

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who supplies the directing or creative intelligence for a project


masterminded; masterminding; masterminds

Definition of mastermind (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to be the mastermind of

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Examples of mastermind in a Sentence

Noun the mastermind behind the terrorist plot the real mastermind behind the embezzlement scheme Verb They masterminded a unique solution to the problem. He masterminded the bank robbery.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the wake of Rick Singer’s guilty plea, media reports portrayed him as a criminal mastermind who deftly hid his activities. Daniel Golden, ProPublica, "An Unseen Victim of the College Admissions Scandal: The High School Tennis Champion Aced Out by a Billionaire Family," 8 Oct. 2019 Here, Utt opens up about her process for our peek inside the habits of a creative mastermind. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "Before You Know It Director Hannah Pearl Utt On Learning From Failure," 30 Aug. 2019 Based on exhaustive research and countless interviews, this book circles around Belichick to tell his full story for the first time, and presents an incisive portrait of a mastermind at work. Fox News, "'Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time' by Ian O'Connor," 25 Sep. 2018 But relatively little is known about the 9/11 mastermind’s youngest son — not even his formal role in Al Qaeda or his age, which is believed to have been around 30., "Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden and once-possible heir to the Al Qaeda terrorist network, was killed in a US counterterror operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, President Trump said Saturday — an announcement that comes more than a month after officials suggested he was killed.," 15 Sep. 2019 The aim was to dislodge Afghanistan's then-ruling Taliban militants for harboring al-Qaida leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Karen Matthews, Anchorage Daily News, "On 18th anniversary, America vows to ‘never forget’ 9/11," 11 Sep. 2019 The aim was to dislodge Afghanistan's then-ruling Taliban militants for harboring al-Qaida leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Karen Matthews,, "Americans remember 9/11 as country still grapples with the attacks’ aftermath," 11 Sep. 2019 The aim was to dislodge Afghanistan’s then-ruling Taliban militants for harboring al-Qaida leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Jennifer Peltz, Twin Cities, "18 years later, America vows to ‘never forget’ 9/11," 11 Sep. 2019 Similarly, Gladwell dances around the topic of torture in his chapter on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a 9/11 mastermind whose deceptions the CIA uncovered in its interrogations. Wray Herbert, Washington Post, "Why do we assume people are telling us the truth?," 6 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Solskjaer has masterminded impressive away victories in other competitions but when his team fall behind in the Premier League, the Norwegian has no answer., "Manchester United's Away Woe Continues as Red Devils Equal Unwanted Record," 3 Nov. 2019 In his 25th season as an NFL head coach and 45th season coaching in the NFL, Belichick has returned to his roots, masterminding a dominant defense that has a league-leading 19 interceptions and 25 turnovers., "Symmetry, something to savor in Bill Belichick’s 300th win - The Boston Globe," 28 Oct. 2019 Advance praise has come from the likes of Crazy Rich Asians mastermind Kevin Kwan and No. David Canfield,, "Gary Janetti talks Truman Capote, Sally Rooney, and more of his literary obsessions," 22 Oct. 2019 The rogue scientist — who masterminded the largest illicit nuclear proliferation ring in history — sold key equipment and designs to Iran, Libya and North Korea. David E. Sanger, New York Times, "Erdogan’s Ambitions Go Beyond Syria. He Says He Wants Nuclear Weapons.," 20 Oct. 2019 Now there’s something new for privileged pulse points: Rose & Cuir, Malle’s collaboration with Jean-Claude Ellena (pictured above), the celebrated nose who masterminded fragrances at Hermès for more than a decade. April Long, Town & Country, "Jean-Claude Ellena Is the Picasso of Perfume," 24 Sep. 2019 The Justice Department first detailed how admissions consultant, Rick Singer, masterminded a multimillion-dollar college bribery scheme, four months ago. CBS News, "School counselor reportedly flagged student's fake credentials year before admissions scandal broke," 31 July 2019 Having taken over the reigns at Liverpool in 2015, the ex-Borussia Dortmund boss worked diligently to rebuild the club's status as one of Europe's best, Klopp masterminding a stellar Champions League triumph last term., "Jurgen Klopp's Agent Says German Could Leave Liverpool Because of the Weather - And Klopp's Response," 16 Sep. 2019 Of course, by default, Dad usually becomes the one who has to mastermind the Father’s Day cookout, since the outdoor grill is traditionally thought of as his responsibility. Wolfgang Puck, Twin Cities, "Wolfgang Puck: Make a special dessert for Dad on his special day," 12 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mastermind.' 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 mastermind


1872, in the meaning defined above


1927, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for mastermind

Last Updated

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for mastermind

The first known use of mastermind was in 1872

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More Definitions for mastermind


How to pronounce mastermind (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mastermind

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who plans and organizes something



English Language Learners Definition of mastermind (Entry 2 of 2)

: to plan and organize (something) : to be the mastermind of (something)

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Comments on mastermind

What made you want to look up mastermind? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

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