[mas-ter-lee, mah-ster-]


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

First recorded in 1375–1425, masterly is from the late Middle English word maisterly. See master, -ly
Related formsmas·ter·li·ness, noun
Can be confusedmasterful masterly (see usage note at masterful)

Usage note Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for masterly

skillful, masterful, excellent, superb, consummate, proficient

Examples from the Web for masterly

Contemporary Examples of masterly

Historical Examples of masterly

  • All these thoughts came to her with rapidity, as Crane talked with masterly judgment.


    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.


    Emile Zola

  • How masterly is he in all the points of his profession as evinced in a criminal court.

British Dictionary definitions for masterly



of the skill befitting a mastera masterly performance
Derived Formsmasterliness, 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

Word Origin and History for masterly

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper