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 mastering (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 mastership (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 A few years after starting Pegasus, Mahady decided to pursue a master's degree in architecture at the University of Minnesota, and embarked on a second career. Rachel Hutton, Star Tribune, "Michaela Mahady, influential residential architect, dies at 68," 17 Nov. 2020 Throughout what would be just 16 years in federal lockup, Rosenberg became a noted author, poet and activist – even earning a master's degree from Antioch University and voraciously writing. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Behind Susan Rosenberg and the roots of left-wing domestic extremism," 17 Nov. 2020 According to his LinkedIn bio, Rigano was on leave from a master's program in bioinformatics at Johns Hopkins and was an adviser to a drug development program at Stanford. Adam Rogers, Wired, "The Strange and Twisted Tale of Hydroxychloroquine," 11 Nov. 2020 Well, part of the problem is that our health care system was never really master-planned. Carolyn Barber, Fortune, "A blueprint for whoever wins the presidential election to fix America’s health care mess," 4 Nov. 2020 Kateri earned a master's degree in social work from Grand Valley State University, and Jay, who also is a land surveyor, a law degree from Thomas Cooley. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "A boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy and now a girl!," 6 Nov. 2020 Kateri earned a master's degree in social work from Grand Valley State University, and Jay, who also is a land surveyor, a law degree from Thomas Cooley. Frank Witsil, USA TODAY, "Michigan couple finally welcomes baby girl — 14 boys later," 6 Nov. 2020 Cannon earned a bachelor of science degree from Alabama State University in Montgomery and a master's degree in science education from Colorado State University in Fort Collins. David Chanen, Star Tribune, "Al Cannon, pioneering Black teacher at Roosevelt High in Minneapolis, dies at 91," 3 Nov. 2020 The 54-year-old graduated from the academy in 1988 before earning a master's degree in public policy from Harvard University ahead of her training as a pilot. Julia Musto, Fox News, "Who is Martha McSally? What you need to know about the Arizona senator," 3 Nov. 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 Emily is the fourth female free-climber to master the rock face, joining Lynn Hill, who in 1992 was the first woman to free climb the rock face in 24 hours, Beth Rodden and Steph Davis. Los Angeles Times, "Where to hike in L.A.'s secret mountains," 12 Nov. 2020 The track is silky-smooth R&B-pop, perfectly pitched and a precursor to the sound Grande would master on her later albums. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Ariana Grande's 10 Best (and Worst) Songs," 29 Oct. 2020 Cover all the fundamentals of MPLS and learn how to master Cisco Networking with the MPLS Fundamentals: Cisco CCNP and Real World course and the Cisco CCNA 200-301 Bootcamp. Allie Colosky, Houston Chronicle, "The ultimate IT training bundle is on sale for just $99," 7 Oct. 2020 To figure out how to master the regal style, MAC Cosmetics Senior Artist Michelle Clark shows off a modern take on the Cleopatra cat-eye that uses scotch tape as a secret weapon in the first video. Harper's Bazaar Staff, Harper's BAZAAR, "How To Wear The Classic Cleopatra Makeup For Halloween," 15 Sep. 2020 Their school systems lack the political support to insist that students master the basics. Washington Post, "A vast web of people not considered educators still help with tough assignments," 24 Oct. 2020 Here’s advice from the experts on the keys to self-control, a necessary and helpful skill to master in the Covid-19 era. Wsj Staff, WSJ, "8 Tips for Stress Relief and Anxiety Management," 23 Oct. 2020 Hunting with them requires time and practice to master. John B. Snow, Outdoor Life, "How to Easily Sight-In Your Rifle with a Point-Blank Zero," 23 Oct. 2020 While the city will master lease the building once it is completed, the project didn’t include any up-front public funding. J.k. Dineen,, "Schwabs donate $65 million to build housing for homeless in San Francisco," 21 Oct. 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

23 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Master.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

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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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