past master


Definition of past master

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for past master


ace, adept, artist, authority, cognoscente, connoisseur, crackerjack (also crackajack), dab [chiefly British], dab hand [chiefly British], expert, fiend, geek, guru, hand, hotshot, maestro, master, maven (also mavin), meister, proficient, scholar, shark, sharp, virtuoso, whiz, wizard


amateur, inexpert, nonexpert

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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

The projects that make up the bond propositions have been identified by residents through the citizen satisfaction survey, past master plans and citizen boards. Roy Kent, Houston Chronicle, "Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce to host presentation on Sugar Land bond program," 29 Aug. 2019 Mr Haradinaj is a past master at snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. The Economist, "Kosovo’s prime minister faces war-crimes allegations," 25 July 2019 Then there’s Chicago trumpeter Orbert Davis’ homage to one of the South Side’s most revered past masters, pianist Willie Pickens. Howard Reich,, "Chicago stories will unfold at 13th Hyde Park Jazz Festival," 7 June 2019 Nevertheless, Chinese investors are past masters of finding new assets for speculation when central banks suddenly start handing out cash. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Handicapping the Next China Bubble," 24 Apr. 2018 Bill was a part owner of Travelers Woods of New England Campground, an NCT member, serving as secretary, and past Master of the Putnam Lodge of Masons No. 46 AM & FM. Hartford Courant,, "Bill Wright," 16 Jan. 2018 Can viewers really consider anything truly new and innovative if artists are always looking to past masters? Jason Foumberg, Chicago Reader, "Take a trip and trip out to ‘William Blake and the Age of Aquarius’," 4 Oct. 2017 The Ming dynasty artist and theorist Dong Qichang (1555-1636) systemized a practice of simultaneously channeling and customizing the work of past masters. Holland Cotter, New York Times, "Chinese Landscapes at the Met: If Those Mountains Could Talk," 13 Sep. 2017

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

1762, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Dictionary Entries near past master

past it



past master

past mistress



Statistics for past master

Last Updated

24 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for past master

The first known use of past master was in 1762

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More Definitions for past master

past master


English Language Learners Definition of past master

: a person who has done something many times before and has become very skilled at doing it

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for past master

Comments on past master

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


a topic to which one constantly reverts

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