[mas-terz, mah-sterz]


Edgar Lee,1869–1950, U.S. poet and novelist.
William Howell,1915–2001, U.S. physician: researcher on human sexual behavior (husband of Virginia E. Johnson).


[mas-ter, mah-ster]


a person with the ability or power to use, control, or dispose of something: a master of six languages; to be master of one's fate.
an owner of a slave, animal, etc.
an employer of workers or servants.
the male head of a household.
a person eminently skilled in something, as an occupation, art, or science: the great masters of the Impressionist period.
a person whose teachings others accept or follow: a Zen master.
Chiefly British. a male teacher or schoolmaster.
a worker qualified to teach apprentices and to carry on a trade independently.
a title given to a bridge or chess player who has won or placed in a certain number of officially recognized tournaments.
a person holding this title.
Also called master mariner. a person who commands a merchant ship; captain.
a victor or conqueror.
a presiding officer.
an officer of the court to whom some or all of the issues in a case may be referred for the purpose of taking testimony and making a report to the court.
the Master, Jesus Christ.
a person who has been awarded a master's degree.
a boy or young man (used chiefly as a term of address).
Also called matrix. an original document, drawing, manuscript, etc., from which copies are made.
a device for controlling another device operating in a similar way.Compare slave(def 5).
  1. matrix(def 14).
  2. a tape or disk from which duplicates may be made.
Also called copy negative. Photography. a film, usually a negative, used primarily for making large quantities of prints.
Archaic. a work of art produced by a master.


being master; exercising mastery; dominant.
chief or principal: a master list.
directing or controlling: a master switch.
of or relating to a master from which copies are made: master film; master matrix; master record; master tape.
dominating or predominant: a master play.
being a master of some occupation, art, etc.; eminently skilled: a master diplomat; a master pianist.
being a master carrying on one's trade independently, rather than a worker employed by another: a master plumber.
characteristic of a master; showing mastery.

verb (used with object)

to make oneself master of; become an adept in: to master a language.
to conquer or overcome: to master one's pride.
to rule or direct as master: to master a crew.
Recording. to produce a master tape, disk, or record of: The producer recorded, mixed, and mastered the new album.

Origin of master

before 900; Middle English maistre, maister, Old English magister < Latin; akin to magnus great
Related formsmas·ter·less, adjectiveout·mas·ter, verb (used with object)sub·mas·ter, nounun·der·mas·ter, nounun·mas·tered, adjectivewell-mas·tered, adjective

Synonyms for master

master's degree


a degree awarded by a graduate school or department, usually to a person who has completed at least one year of graduate study.
Also called mas·ter's. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for masters

Contemporary Examples of masters

Historical Examples of masters

  • Once more the Egyptians were masters within their own house.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • Your squires are doubtless worthy the fame of their masters.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The masters must have hated the school much more than the boys did.

  • In your choice of a son-in-law you should not blindly follow the anger which masters you.

  • The work was done by the natives, but under the direction of their masters, the Dutch.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for masters



Edgar Lee. 1868–1950, US poet; best known for Spoon River Anthology (1915)



the man in authority, such as the head of a household, the employer of servants, or the owner of slaves or animalsRelated adjective: magistral
  1. a person with exceptional skill at a certain thinga master of the violin
  2. (as modifier)a master thief
(often capital) a great artist, esp an anonymous but influential artist
  1. a person who has complete control of a situation
  2. an abstract thing regarded as having power or influencethey regarded fate as the master of their lives
  1. a workman or craftsman fully qualified to practise his trade and to train others in it
  2. (as modifier)master carpenter
  1. an original copy, stencil, tape, etc, from which duplicates are made
  2. (as modifier)master copy
a player of a game, esp chess or bridge, who has won a specified number of tournament games
the principal of some colleges
a highly regarded teacher or leader whose religion or philosophy is accepted by followers
a graduate holding a master's degree
the chief executive officer aboard a merchant ship
a person presiding over a function, organization, or institution
mainly British a male teacher
an officer of the Supreme Court of Judicature subordinate to a judge
the superior person or side in a contest
a machine or device that operates to control a similar one
(often capital) the heir apparent of a Scottish viscount or baron
(modifier) overall or controllingmaster plan
(modifier) designating a device or mechanism that controls othersmaster switch
(modifier) main; principalmaster bedroom
the master Southern African informal the man of the house

verb (tr)

to become thoroughly proficient into master the art of driving
to overcome; defeatto master your emotions
to rule or control as master
Derived Formsmasterdom, nounmasterhood, nounmasterless, adjectivemastership, noun

Word Origin for master

Old English magister teacher, from Latin; related to Latin magis more, to a greater extent



a title of address placed before the first name or surname of a boy
a respectful term of address, esp as used by disciples when addressing or referring to a religious teacher
an archaic equivalent of Mr
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 masters

master's degree


late 14c., originally a degree giving one authority to teach in a university; from master (n.) in its general sense of "man of learning" (early 13c.), "a teacher" (c.1200).



early 13c., "to get the better of," from master (n.) and also from Old French maistrier, from Medieval Latin magistrare. Meaning "to reduce to subjugation" is early 15c.; that of "to acquire complete knowledge" is from 1740s. Related: Mastered; mastering.



late Old English mægester "one having control or authority," from Latin magister (n.) "chief, head, director, teacher" (source of Old French maistre, French maître, Spanish and Italian maestro, Portuguese mestre, Dutch meester, German Meister), contrastive adjective ("he who is greater") from magis (adv.) "more," from PIE *mag-yos-, comparative of root *meg- "great" (see mickle). Form influenced in Middle English by Old French cognate maistre. Meaning "original of a recording" is from 1904. In academic senses (from Medieval Latin magister) it is attested from late 14c., originally a degree conveying authority to teach in the universities. As an adjective from late 12c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with masters


see past master.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.