[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 masterminding

organize, author

Examples from the Web for masterminding

Contemporary Examples of masterminding

  • Xeros was sentenced to six life sentences for his responsibility in masterminding the deaths of Americans, Britons and Greeks.

    The Daily Beast logo
    A Greek Fugitive Terrorist’s Call To Arms

    Barbie Latza Nadeau

    January 23, 2014

  • The British military has been accused of masterminding a plot that killed Princess Diana.

  • But Weill put together this behemoth anyway and went about masterminding the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which happened in 1999.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Which Bank Is the Worst?

    Gary Rivlin

    October 25, 2011

  • Masterminding the perfect look for Hollywood celebrities comes at a price.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Stars Without Stylists

    Linlee Allen

    March 23, 2010

  • After years of delays, preliminary hearings began last September for the five men accused of masterminding the 9/11 attacks.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Trouble with Closing Gitmo

    Salameh Nematt

    December 9, 2008

British Dictionary definitions for masterminding



(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 masterminding



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