past master


: one who has held the office of worshipful master in a lodge of Freemasons or of master in a guild, club, or society
[alteration of passed master] : one who is expert : adept

Examples of past master in a Sentence

He's a past master at finding ways to get out of trouble. They are past masters of the art of propaganda.
Recent Examples on the Web And he is positioned as the chief foreign luminary at the festival’s anniversary tribute to past master Ozu Yasujiro. Mark Schilling, Variety, 23 Oct. 2023 The fact that the company is designing a standalone robotaxi speaks to its failures in executing past master plans. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, 28 Feb. 2023 Wonder, a past master of love songs, makes a demand that tests the output of every contemporary pop singer and every jaded fan. Armond White, National Review, 25 Nov. 2020 Does this past master of starting crazes see the Reddit phenomenon as a long-overdue democratization of the stock market, or a frenzy detached from the fundamentals of investing? Shawn Tully, Fortune, 22 Mar. 2021 The locked-room mystery—not just a whodunnit but a how-done-it—pays homage to past masters such as John Dickson Carr and Gaston Leroux. The Economist, 18 Dec. 2019 When the ensemble made its first national tour, playing Orchestra Hall in September 1992, Marsalis and friends were trying to show that America needed a world-class jazz orchestra that could honor past masters while forging future ones. Howard Reich,, 16 Nov. 2019 Like Carmela, museums are past masters at putting a respectable face on barbarism. Rhonda Lieberman, The New Republic, 23 Sep. 2019 After all, the big fees that credit card companies and banks extract from merchants are ripe for disruption––and Sprecher's a past master at making an array of transactions faster and cheaper. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 20 Sep. 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'past master.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1762, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of past master was in 1762

Dictionary Entries Near past master

Cite this Entry

“Past master.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

past master

: one who has held the office of master (as in a club or lodge)
: one who is expert
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