[mas-ter-mahynd, mah-ster-]
See more synonyms for mastermind on
verb (used with object)
  1. to plan and direct (a usually complex project or activity), especially skillfully: Two colonels had masterminded the revolt.
  1. 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. 2018

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


  1. (tr) to plan and direct (a complex undertaking)he masterminded the robbery
  1. 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