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[mas-ter-lee, mah-ster-] /ˈmæs tər li, ˈmɑ stər-/
like or befitting a master, as in skill or art; worthy of a master; very skillful:
a masterly presentation of the budget.
in a masterly manner.
Origin of masterly
late Middle English
First recorded in 1375-1425, masterly is from the late Middle English word maisterly. See master, -ly
Related forms
masterliness, noun
Can be confused
masterful, masterly (see usage note at masterful)
Usage note
See masterful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for masterly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All these thoughts came to her with rapidity, as Crane talked with masterly judgment.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • The whole is first laid in with a very delicate and masterly gray, 8.

  • It was really magnificent, full of masterly breadth of colouring.

    His Masterpiece Emile Zola
  • She suddenly received a masterly blow just on the right cheek.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • How masterly is he in all the points of his profession as evinced in a criminal court.

  • The masterly generalship of his comrade filled him with admiration.

    The Night Riders Ridgwell Cullum
  • The masterly handling of color in this picture has rarely been excelled.

    Aztec Land Maturin M. Ballou
British Dictionary definitions for masterly


of the skill befitting a master: a masterly performance
Derived Forms
masterliness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for masterly

1530s, "overbearing;" 1660s, "skillful," from master (n.) + -ly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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