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

verb (used with object)

to plan and direct (a usually complex project or activity), especially skillfully: Two colonels had masterminded the revolt.


a person who originates or is primarily responsible for the execution of a particular idea, project, or the like: the masterminds of company policy.

Origin of mastermind

First recorded in 1710–20; master + mind Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for mastermind

organize, author

Examples from the Web for mastermind

Contemporary Examples of mastermind

Historical Examples of mastermind

  • He said to Professor Garet, "All right, mastermind, untie me."

  • As for Salem, it looks as though a mastermind had been at work, I see it in everything.

    No Defense, Complete

    Gilbert Parker

  • Ravick seemed to have gotten the idea that Joe Kivelson was the mastermind of the hunters' cabal against him.

    Four-Day Planet

    Henry Beam Piper

  • A banquet extraordinary was shortly to take place, and M. Sapin, the mastermind, came to beg of Regali the recipe for his ragout.

  • His mastermind comprehended the importance and necessity of combined and harmonious effort.

British Dictionary definitions for mastermind



(tr) to plan and direct (a complex undertaking)he masterminded the robbery


a person of great intelligence or executive talent, esp one who directs an undertaking
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 mastermind

1720, "an outstanding intellect," from master (n.) + mind (n.). Meaning "head of a criminal enterprise" is first attested 1872. As a verb from 1940. Related: Masterminded; masterminding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper