[ mas-ter, mah-ster ]
See synonyms for: mastermasteredmasteringmasters on

  1. a person with the ability or power to use, control, or dispose of something: a master of six languages;to be master of one's fate.

  2. an owner of enslaved people, in the institution of chattel slavery; a slaveholder: Antebellum laws and codes in the South restricted the circumstances under which masters could free African Americans from slavery.

  1. an owner of a pet or other animal: The dog waited at the end of the lane every evening to greet his master coming home.

  2. Older Use. the male head of a household: As the oldest son, he felt a lot of pressure to act as the master of the house after his father’s passing.

  3. Older Use. an employer of workers or servants: The valet unpacked his master’s luggage prior to his arrival.

  4. Sometimes Master . the dominant sexual partner in a BDSM relationship of unequal power.

  5. a person eminently skilled in something, as an occupation, art, or science: the great masters of the Impressionist period.

  6. a person whose teachings others accept or follow: a Zen master.

  7. Chiefly British. a male teacher or schoolmaster.

  8. a worker qualified to teach apprentices and to carry on a trade independently.

  9. a title given to a bridge or chess player who has won or placed in a certain number of officially recognized tournaments.

  10. a person holding this title.

  11. Also called mas·ter mar·i·ner [mas-ter mar-uh-ner, mah-ster] /ˈmæs tər ˈmær ə nər, ˈmɑ stər/ . a person who commands a merchant ship; captain.

  12. a victor or conqueror.

  13. a presiding officer.

  14. an officer of the court to whom some or all of the issues in a case may be referred for the purpose of taking testimony and making a report to the court.

  15. the Master. Christianity. Jesus Christ.

  16. a person who has been awarded a master's degree.

  17. a boy or young man (used chiefly as a term of address).

  18. Also called matrix . an original document, drawing, manuscript, etc., from which copies are made.

  19. Machinery, Computers. a device or process that controls another device or process operating in a similar way.: Compare slave (def. 5).

  20. Recording.

  21. Computers an original data file or disk from which duplicates may be made.

  22. Also called cop·y neg·a·tive [kop-ee neg-uh-tiv] /ˈkɒp i ˈnɛg ə tɪv/ .Photography. a film, usually a negative, used primarily for making large quantities of prints.

  23. Archaic. a work of art produced by a master.

  1. being master; exercising mastery; dominant.

  2. chief or principal: a master list.

  1. directing or controlling: a master switch.

  2. of or relating to a master from which duplicates are made: a master recording;the master copy of a piece of software.The master film had been misfiled in the archives.

  3. dominating or predominant: a master play.

  4. being a master of some occupation, art, etc.; eminently skilled: a master diplomat;a master pianist.

  5. being a master carrying on one's trade independently, rather than a worker employed by another: a master plumber.

  6. characteristic of a master; showing expert skill, ability, or knowledge: The chosen design was a master achievement that still amazes architects, engineers, and scientists today.

verb (used with object)
  1. to make oneself master of; become an adept in: to master a language.

  2. to conquer or overcome: to master one's pride.

  1. to rule or direct as master: to master a crew.

  2. Recording. to produce a master audio file, disk, phonograph record, or tape of: The producer recorded, mixed, and mastered the new album.

Origin of master

First recorded before 900; Middle English maistre, maister, Old English magister, from Latin; akin to magnus “great”

Other words for master

Other words from master

  • mas·ter·less, adjective
  • out·mas·ter, verb (used with object)
  • sub·mas·ter, noun
  • un·der·mas·ter, noun
  • un·mas·tered, adjective
  • well-mas·tered, adjective

Words Nearby master Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use master in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for master (1 of 2)


/ (ˈmɑːstə) /

  1. the man in authority, such as the head of a household, the employer of servants, or the owner of slaves or animals: Related adjective: magistral

    • a person with exceptional skill at a certain thing: a master of the violin

    • (as modifier): a master thief

  1. (often capital) a great artist, esp an anonymous but influential artist

    • a person who has complete control of a situation

    • an abstract thing regarded as having power or influence: they regarded fate as the master of their lives

    • a workman or craftsman fully qualified to practise his trade and to train others in it

    • (as modifier): master carpenter

    • an original copy, stencil, tape, etc, from which duplicates are made

    • (as modifier): master copy

  2. a player of a game, esp chess or bridge, who has won a specified number of tournament games

  3. the principal of some colleges

  4. a highly regarded teacher or leader whose religion or philosophy is accepted by followers

  5. a graduate holding a master's degree

  6. the chief executive officer aboard a merchant ship

  7. a person presiding over a function, organization, or institution

  8. mainly British a male teacher

  9. an officer of the Supreme Court of Judicature subordinate to a judge

  10. the superior person or side in a contest

  11. a machine or device that operates to control a similar one

  12. (often capital) the heir apparent of a Scottish viscount or baron

  13. (modifier) overall or controlling: master plan

  14. (modifier) designating a device or mechanism that controls others: master switch

  15. (modifier) main; principal: master bedroom

  16. the master Southern African informal the man of the house

  1. to become thoroughly proficient in: to master the art of driving

  2. to overcome; defeat: to master your emotions

  1. to rule or control as master

Origin of master

Old English magister teacher, from Latin; related to Latin magis more, to a greater extent

Derived forms of master

  • masterdom, noun
  • masterhood, noun
  • masterless, adjective
  • mastership, noun

British Dictionary definitions for Master (2 of 2)


/ (ˈmɑːstə) /

  1. a title of address placed before the first name or surname of a boy

  2. a respectful term of address, esp as used by disciples when addressing or referring to a religious teacher

  1. an archaic equivalent of Mr

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with master


see past master.

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