There are 2 main definitions of master in English:

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master 1

Pronunciation: /ˈmɑːstə/


1chiefly historical A man who has people working for him, especially servants or slaves: he acceded to his master’s wishes
More example sentences
  • The third type of government in the household is that of the lord over his slaves and the master over his servants…
  • By 1640 the social structure of the island consisted of masters, servants, and slaves.
  • The old law of master and servant saw the master as the head of the family.
lord, overlord, lord and master, ruler, sovereign, monarch, liege, liege lord, suzerain;
informal chief, top dog, honcho, head honcho, Big Chief, Big Daddy
British informal gaffer, guv'nor
North American informal kahuna, sachem
1.1A person who has complete control of something: he was master of the situation
More example sentences
  • They were simply awesome, quite the masters of the situation.
  • But for the Prime Minister, usually the great master of these situations, it was close to a disaster.
  • Last evening, the master of all situations difficult went for a walk to make tough decisions.
1.2 dated A male head of a household: the master of the house
More example sentences
  • He asked me what my business was and I told him I had a letter of introduction for the master of the household.
  • He was the independent master of a peasant household, whose position was protected by the king's law.
  • He is a father, a master of household, a countryman, and hence a consummate member of a community.
1.3The owner of a dog, horse, or other domesticated animal: in many ways dogs reflect the styles of their masters
More example sentences
  • In these stories, the horse accompanies his master through all kinds of hardships and danger.
  • The forest was still and quiet; the horses watched their masters placidly.
  • Even the animals knew their masters were excited, and were thus excited themselves.
owner, keeper
1.4A machine or device directly controlling another: [as modifier]: a master cylinder Compare with slave.
More example sentences
  • The main advantage of the cluster is that the computation power depends on the number of computers one adds to the master machine.
  • One device acts as a master and the devices connected to it act as slaves.
  • Whenever a machine becomes master, it takes over the virtual server address and continues with its original.
2A man in charge of an organization or group, in particular:
Example sentences
  • They had to act according to the dictates of the political masters.
  • The council's political masters would rather watch while the city chokes than get serious about exhaust fumes.
  • Success depends on an identity of goals between soldiers and their political masters, and a clear chain of command.
2.1British A male schoolteacher: the games master
More example sentences
  • The master of the public school said he was unable to make any further comment.
  • When he protested his innocence, his schoolmates sided with the master.
  • Look at him, walking around like he's the day master at a boarding school.
2.2The head of a college or school.
Example sentences
  • The rogue gave the master of the college as referee, but in view of his story, the bank opened the account and collected the cheque without making enquiries.
  • First there was a general interview at which the candidates were grilled by the master, dean, senior tutor, and fellows of the subject.
  • He held the regius chair of Greek at Oxford for nearly 40 years and was master of Balliol College for more than 20 years.
2.3The presiding officer of a livery company or Masonic lodge.
Example sentences
  • The master's lodge is also scheduled for a makeover, likely to cost £500,000.
  • This is an annual event, which is the result of what is considered to be the master of the lodge's annual charity appeal.
  • He is very high up in the lodge, past Worshipful master.
guru, teacher, spiritual leader, guide, mentor, torch-bearer, swami, Roshi, Maharishi
2.4The captain of a merchant ship.
Example sentences
  • During the trip, Jones unexpectedly became the ship's master when its captain and first mate died suddenly.
  • The master of the ship was in command at the time of the incident.
  • A mariner emerges from the hatchway and climbs the rigging, while below the boatswain and ship's master are thrown about on deck.
captain, skipper, commander
2.5The person in control of a pack of hounds: the master of the Aylesbury Vale Hunt
More example sentences
  • The poisoning of hounds forced half a dozen masters of packs of foxhounds to abandon hunting altogether, to the detriment of the local economy.
  • They have been bred to be vicious and as proof I can look no further than a late relative of mine who was a master of the hounds.
  • He said: ‘I have already had two fox hounds masters on the phone today to say it's a shabby deal.’
2.6(In England and Wales) an official of the Supreme Court.
Example sentences
  • It seems to me that neither the master nor the deputy judge made any error of law.
  • A master of the B.C. Supreme Court dismissed both these applications.
  • She probably didn't appreciate that the master was without jurisdiction to make that order since her predecessor had obtained it.
3A skilled practitioner of a particular art or activity: I’m a master of disguise
More example sentences
  • Strength, compassion, honor and skill elevate the practitioner to the master.
  • The FBI agent is tough, smart, and a master of disguise.
  • He is a master of disguise and concealment.
informal ace, pro, wizard, whizz, wiz, hotshot, ninja
British informal dab hand
North American informal maven, crackerjack
3.1A great artist or musician: follow in the footsteps of the masters and paint in locations made famous by their work
More example sentences
  • There he studied with both Canova and Thorvaldsen, the leading masters of Neoclassical sculpture.
  • All the collected works from the seven-week event are currently on show alongside masters like Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dali.
  • His watercolours, for instance, have been influenced by such masters as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Henri Matisse.
3.2A very strong chess player, especially one who has qualified for the title at international tournaments: a chess master See also grand master.
More example sentences
  • All the young chess masters have been coached by titled players and most began regular instruction of one or two hours per week soon after learning the game.
  • Many of the greatest masters have recommended that chess should be studied from the endgame.
  • Did the old chess masters know something the modern champions don't?
3.3 (Masters) [treated as singular] (In some sports) a class for competitors over the usual age for the highest level of competition.
Example sentences
  • It turned out that year's Masters was the most enjoyable tournament I have ever played.
  • He led the Masters that year as well, but so far this season has missed the cut in both the Masters and US Open.
  • He recorded 17.09 as he broke both the British and European Masters records in this event.
4 [usually in titles] A person who holds a second or further degree: a master’s degree a Master of Arts
More example sentences
  • He is a graduate of UH with master's degrees in Pacific Studies and History.
  • Some had master's and doctorate degrees, and some were Party members.
  • The number of researchers has doubled, and a larger proportion now have master's degrees and doctorates.
4.1 (master's) A postgraduate degree: I had a master’s in computer engineering
More example sentences
  • Vaughn is currently in graduate school pursuing a master's in business administration.
  • Lorenzo has a master's in communications from Boston University.
  • Corliss has a bachelor's degree from Saint Joseph's College in Philadelphia and a master's in film studies from Columbia University.
5Used as a title prefixed to the name of a boy not old enough to be called ‘Mr’: Master James Wishart
More example sentences
  • Young Master John, please to understand it is not wise to disrespect and interrupt your elders if you wish to benefit from their knowledge and wisdom.
  • Bronte depicts young Master John Reed as virtually a paradigm of the Victorian bad boy, wallowing in gluttony, sadism, and a host of other deadly sins.
  • But I'd look between the benches at young master Charles on the playing field and think, that's where I should be.
5.1 archaic A title for a man of high rank or learning.
Example sentences
  • The same year there came into England Master John, a Scot by nation, a man of an apprehensive mind and of singular eloquence.
5.2The title of the heir apparent of a Scottish viscount or baron.
Example sentences
  • By tradition the heir apparent or indeed the heir presumptive to a Scottish peerage title is traditionally known as 'The Master of', or if the heir happened to be female as the 'The Mistress of'.
  • In Scotland many eldest sons are entitled to the designation of Master.
6An original recording, film, or document from which copies can be made: [as modifier]: the master tape
More example sentences
  • The quality is also poor because the transfer was taken from a tape master rather than the original 35 mm print.
  • The transfers are as good as they can be, given the state of the video master tapes these were culled from.
  • The soundtrack master seems to have been in good shape, as there is little trace of any kind of background distortions or hiss.
original, archetype, prototype


1Having or showing very great skill or proficiency: you don’t have to be a master chef in order to cook meat properly a heart-warming story from a master storyteller
More example sentences
  • When she had reached the third grade at school, her teacher, a master painter, noticed her remarkable drawing skill.
  • A well thatched roof into which has gone the skill of a master craftsman can last for 50 years or even more depending on the pitch of the roof and where in the country it is.
  • Many bone items would be very cheap to make, since they utilised a material that would otherwise be thrown away and did not need the skills of a master craftsman.
1.1Denoting a person skilled in a particular trade and able to teach others: a master bricklayer
More example sentences
  • I can't think of a finer person to have taught me the sport-he was a master technician who had a real knack for dealing with kids.
  • You don't need to be a master carpenter, but some basic skills and basic tools are necessary.
  • Our country has the pride of having master craftsmen who carve out exquisite products with their deft hands.
informal crack, ace, mean, wizard
North American informal crackerjack
vulgar slang shit-hot
archaic or humorous compleat
2Main; principal: the apartment’s master bathroom has a free-standing oval bathtub
More example sentences
  • I scored the first victory of the weekend by claiming the master bedroom - a sumptuous affair with a bay window and a lovely view of the river.
  • The master bedroom is ensuite and has a walk-in wardrobe with shelves.
  • On the first floor there is a master bedroom with en-suite shower room and balcony, and a second bedroom/study.


[with object]
1Acquire complete knowledge or skill in (a subject, technique, or art): I never mastered Latin
More example sentences
  • Treatment strategies for asthma include daily self-management that relies on acquiring and mastering specific knowledge and skills.
  • It was a time when creating a role meant believing in the art rather than simply mastering the technique.
  • His technique of completely mastering a topic before drawing it allowed for this high level of demonstrative skill.
learn, learn thoroughly, become proficient in, know inside out, know backwards, become expert in, acquire, pick up, grasp, understand
informal get the hang of, get clued up about, get off by heart
2Gain control of; overcome: I managed to master my fears
More example sentences
  • Personality explores what it is that makes us who we are and uncovers the universal battle to master our emotions and control our behaviour.
  • I'm not sure if you'll find an easy answer: mastering control of your dreams enough to wake up at will may be a skill that takes a while to learn.
  • Humans then have a God given right to control and master nature.
3Make a master copy of (a film or recording): all records are now being mastered and manufactured for us in the Netherlands
More example sentences
  • Georgie also called on Robyn to master the recording.
  • I wish someone would properly master this recording so that I can truly judge the overall quality.
  • The sound is also strong, with most of the films mastered in either Dolby 5.1 surround or stereo.



be one's own master

Be independent or free to do as one wishes: I’m going to take control—be my own master at last
More example sentences
  • The artist may be said to have been his own master, because, even when he was apprenticed to a painter he was taught less than he already knew.
  • To be one's own master and to control one's own destiny are the eternal desires of human beings, and democracy is the most significant system to help us realize this desire.
  • He is his own master and disciple in iconography.

make oneself master of

Acquire a thorough knowledge of or facility in: he made himself master of the political philosophy of Burke
More example sentences
  • The important secret of war is to make oneself master of the communications



Example sentences
  • Now all you need to do is rinse and repeat, and before long DIY masterdom will be yours.
  • These blessings emphasize two things: boundless reproduction and man's masterdom over other living creatures.


Example sentences
  • As for how many minorities are represented in corporate masterhood, why should that be a measure of anything?
  • Masterhood, the result of the engaging in the practices that Masters teach, is the birthright of all.
  • Each one of these Shaikhs received the Masterhood from his predecessor.


Pronunciation: /ˈmɑːstələs/
Example sentences
  • In addition, there are photographs of the relics of the masterless samurai and the ruins of their castle in Akô.
  • The loose garments (especially the mantle) and the long hair (called ‘glibbes’) were traditional aids to thieves and masterless men.
  • Growing concern at the number of masterless men, increasing vagabondage, and escalating crime underlay the outline of terms and conditions of service between masters and servants, in an effort to reduce notorious discord.


Pronunciation: /ˈmɑːstəʃɪp/
Example sentences
  • Yet some workers still managed to rise out of the ranks of apprentices and journeymen and acquire masterships themselves.
  • Much was made of such inequities when guilds had become a thing of the past; but mastership was not an automatic passport to commercial success, and in most guilds access to it does not appear to have been seriously restricted.
  • In my personal view he has an extraordinary talent - a combination of artistic expression and technical mastership.


Old English mæg(i)ster (later reinforced by Old French maistre), from Latin magister; probably related to magis 'more'.

  • magistrate from Late Middle English:

    Magistrate is from Latin magistratus ‘administrator’, from magister ‘master’. This also gives us master (Old English), its weakened form mister (mid 16th century), and miss.

Words that rhyme with master

blaster, caster, castor, faster, grandmaster, headmaster, pastor, plaster
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There are 2 main definitions of master in English:

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master 2

Pronunciation: /ˈmɑːstə/


[in combination]
A ship or boat with a specified number of masts: a three-master
More example sentences
  • Here, Bruegel depicted a four-master and two three-masters anchored near a fortified island capped by a lighthouse.
  • Technically speaking, a three master is a full-rigged ship.
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