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 combination a 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 Gail Brown Hudson is a Minneapolis freelance writer with a master's degree in horticulture from the University of Minnesota. Gail Hudson, Star Tribune, "Jumping-worm invasion upends spring plant-sale season," 23 Apr. 2021 Nevertheless, federal data show that Georgetown awarded 1,796 bachelor’s degrees in the 2019-2020 school year, as well as 4,072 master’s degrees and 1,038 doctorates. Washington Post, "Georgetown University to hold pandemic commencement at Nationals Park," 22 Apr. 2021 He's received a master's degree in computer science at Rice University. Jordan Valinsky, CNN, "Brian Armstrong, Coinbase's CEO, is now one of the richest people on Earth," 14 Apr. 2021 Harrison stars as Anna, a 20-something barista who becomes a gestational surrogate in order to finance her dream of getting a master's degree. Mary Sollosi,, "Patti Harrison and Ed Helms spark a friendship over a surrogacy in Together Together trailer," 31 Mar. 2021 Bennett holds a master's degree from Southern Arkansas University and has served as interim chief since September 1, 2020. Lori Dunn/texarkana Gazette, Arkansas Online, "Texarkana names new police chief; Bennett is first woman in role," 30 Mar. 2021 McMurtry graduated from what is now the University of North Texas in Denton in 1958 with a bachelor's degree in English and from Rice University in Houston with a master's degree in English in 1960. Jamie Stengle, ajc, "Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry dies at 84," 26 Mar. 2021 Reuvers earned a bachelor's degree in finance, investment and banking and is on track to earn a master's degree in supply chain management in May. Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Isaac Lindsey, who was a standout guard for Mineral Point High School and last season was a freshman at UNLV, is transferring to UW," 26 Mar. 2021 Both have master’s degrees and taught him the value of education. Los Angeles Times, "Sulayman Adeoye gets his shot, but Notre Dame falls to Bishop Alemany," 19 Mar. 2021 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 His team picked the aggressive, two-stop strategy that all of Sunday's podium (Palou, Will Power and Scott Dixon) chose, but the DCR team didn't quite master the fuel-saving towards the back half of the race. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Jimmie Johnson, Romain Grosjean exceed own expectations in IndyCar debuts at Barber," 19 Apr. 2021 The boy would eventually master the harmonic riddles and complex button controls of the bandoneón — and, upon his return to Argentina, deploy it as a potent weapon in a cultural insurgency. Los Angeles Times, "They called him tango’s assassin. But Astor Piazzolla’s musical reboot made him a legend," 15 Apr. 2021 For an environment of trust, respect and safety to exist, leaders must master the skill of communicating honestly, empathetically and decisively. Esther Weinberg, Forbes, "Eight Strategies To Help You Communicate Effectively And Be A More Influential Leader," 7 Apr. 2021 The application is so simple, even a novice could master it quickly with minimal mess. Kiana Murden, CNN Underscored, "This powder foundation that went viral on TikTok is worth the hype," 23 Mar. 2021 As for puzzle games, start with a puzzle that is fairly easy to master, like a Kong Wobbler, which dispenses a treat when your dog pushes it over. Cathy M. Rosenthal, San Antonio Express-News, "Is your dog bored, anxious? Here are 5 ways to make dogs happy," 11 Mar. 2021 From there, Vision and what remains of the Hex disintegrates, and Wanda heads off to not only master her newfound Scarlet Witch powers, but also hopefully deal with her grief. Chancellor Agard,, "WandaVision finale recap: Even an android can cry," 5 Mar. 2021 But what if nefarious actors master the technology first? Tom Shippey, WSJ, "Science Fiction: ‘Into the Light’ Review," 26 Feb. 2021 In time, Smith would master French, and demonstrate proficiency in Spanish, German, Italian and Hebrew. Bryan Greene, Smithsonian Magazine, "America’s First Black Physician Sought to Heal a Nation’s Persistent Illness," 26 Feb. 2021

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

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Master.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for master



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 mister Master 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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