[mast, mahst]


  1. a spar or structure rising above the hull and upper portions of a ship or boat to hold sails, spars, rigging, booms, signals, etc., at some point on the fore-and-aft line, as a foremast or mainmast.
  2. any of a number of individual spars composing such a structure, as a topmast supported on trestletrees at the head of a lower mast.
  3. any of various portions of a single spar that are beside particular sails, as a top-gallant mast and royal mast formed as a single spar.
Also called pillar. the upright support of a jib crane.
any upright pole, as a support for an aerial, a post in certain cranes, etc.

verb (used with object)

to provide with a mast or masts.


    before the mast, Nautical. as an unlicensed sailor: He served several years before the mast.

Origin of mast

before 900; Middle English; Old English mæst; cognate with German Mast; akin to Latin mālus pole
Related formsmast·less, adjectivemast·like, adjectiveun·der·mast·ed, adjective


[mast, mahst]


the fruit of the oak and beech or other forest trees, used as food for hogs and other animals.

Origin of mast

before 900; Middle English; Old English mæst; cognate with German Mast; akin to meat


variant of masto- before a vowel: mastectomy. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for mast

pole, post, timber, trunk

Examples from the Web for mast

Contemporary Examples of mast

Historical Examples of mast

  • She see us a-wallowin' in the trough and our mast thrashin' for all it was worth.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • We were fighting a fair fight, for he had boarded the ship when the mast fell and killed him.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • They're so mad because they can't get at us that they're biting the mast.

    The Forest

    Stewart Edward White

  • We have a mast and sail there, I see, and water in the beaker.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • "Hand me the lead and line, that lie at the foot of the mast, it you please," said Paul.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for mast




nautical any vertical spar for supporting sails, rigging, flags, etc, above the deck of a vessel or any components of such a composite spar
any sturdy upright pole used as a support
Also called: captain's mast nautical a hearing conducted by the captain of a vessel into minor offences of the crew
before the mast nautical as an apprentice seaman


(tr) nautical to equip with a mast or masts
Derived Formsmastless, adjectivemastlike, adjective

Word Origin for mast

Old English mæst; related to Middle Dutch mast and Latin mālus pole




the fruit of forest trees, such as beech, oak, etc, used as food for pigs

Word Origin for mast

Old English mæst; related to Old High German mast food, and perhaps to meat


combining form

a variant of masto-
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

Word Origin and History for mast

"long pole on a ship to support the sail," Old English mæst, from Proto-Germanic *mastaz (cf. Old Norse mastr, Middle Dutch maste, Dutch, Danish mast, German Mast), from PIE *mazdo- "a pole, rod" (cf. Latin malus "mast," Old Irish matan "club," Irish maide "a stick," Old Church Slavonic mostu "bridge"). The single mast of an old ship was the boundary between quarters of officers and crew, hence before the mast in the title of Dana's book, etc.


"fallen nuts; food for swine," Old English mæst, from Proto-Germanic *masto (cf. Dutch, Old High German, German mast "mast;" Old English verb mæsten "to fatten, feed"), perhaps from PIE *mad-sta-, from root *mad- "moist, wet," also used of various qualities of food (cf. Sanskrit madati "it bubbles, gladdens," medah "fat, marrow;" Latin madere "be sodden, be drunk;" Middle Persian mast "drunk;" Old English mete "food," Old High German muos "meal, mushlike food," Gothic mats "food").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

mast in Medicine



Variant ofmasto-
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with mast


see at half-mast.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.