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


a person's greatest piece of work, as in an art.
anything done with masterly skill: a masterpiece of improvisation.
a consummate example of skill or excellence of any kind: The chef's cake was a masterpiece.
a piece made by a person aspiring to the rank of master in a guild or other craft organization as a proof of competence.

Origin of masterpiece

1570–80; master + piece, modeled on Dutch meesterstuk, German Meisterstück Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for masterpiece


less commonly masterwork (ˈmɑːstəˌwɜːk)


an outstanding work, achievement, or performance
the most outstanding piece of work of a creative artist, craftsman, etc

Word Origin for masterpiece

C17: compare Dutch meesterstuk, German Meisterstück, a sample of work submitted to a guild by a craftsman in order to qualify for the rank of master
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 masterpiece

c.1600, from master (n.) + piece (n.). A loan-translation of Dutch meesterstuk "work by which a craftsman attains the rank of master" (or its German cognate Meisterstück).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper