- one of a class of skilled stoneworkers of the Middle Ages, possessing secret signs and passwords.
- a member of a society composed of such workers, which also included honorary members (accepted masons) not connected with the building trades.
Origin of Freemason
Examples from the Web for freemason
Historical Examples of freemason
Tom Platt visited her, because, he said, the dead man was his brother as a Freemason."Captains Courageous"
He lived for many years on Brighton Street, and was a Freemason.Tea Leaves
"But he must be a Freemason," said he, referring to the abbe whom he had met that evening.War and Peace
He had never, so far as came to my knowledge, been a freemason.The Ghost-Seer (or The Apparitionist), and Sport of Destiny
My aunt was surprised and hoped it was not some Freemason affair.Dubliners
late 14c., originally a traveling guild of masons with a secret code; in the early 17c. they began accepting honorary members and teaching them the secrets and lore, which by 1717 had developed into the fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons.
The exact origin of the free- is a subject of dispute. Some [e.g. Klein] see a corruption of French frère "brother," from frèremaçon "brother mason;" others say it was because the masons worked on "free-standing" stones; still others see them as "free" from the control of local guilds or lords [OED].