1. One that has control over another or others.
a. The owner or keeper of an animal: The dog ran toward its master.
b. The owner of a slave.
3. One who has control over or ownership of something: the master of a large tea plantation.
4. The captain of a merchant ship. Also called master mariner.
5. An employer.
6. The man who serves as the head of a household.
7. One who defeats another; a victor.
a. One whose teachings or doctrines are accepted by followers.
b. Master Christianity Jesus.
9. A male teacher, schoolmaster, or tutor.
10. One who holds a master’s degree.
a. An artist or performer of great and exemplary skill.
b. An old master.
12. A worker qualified to teach apprentices and carry on the craft independently.
13. An expert: a master of three languages.
14. Abbr. M.
a. Used formerly as a title for a man holding a naval office ranking next below a lieutenant on a warship.
b. Used as a title for a man who serves as the head or presiding officer of certain societies, clubs, orders, or institutions.
c. Chiefly British Used as a title for any of various male law court officers.
d. Master Used as a title for any of various male officers having specified duties concerning the management of the British royal household.
e. Master Used as a courtesy title before the given or full name of a boy not considered old enough to be addressed as Mister.
f. Archaic Used as a form of address for a man; mister.
15. Master A man who owns a pack of hounds or is the chief officer of a hunt.
16. An original, such as an original document or audio recording, from which copies can be made.
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a master.
2. Principal or predominant: a master plot.
3. Controlling all other parts of a mechanism: a master switch.
4. Highly skilled or proficient: a master thief.
5. Being an original from which copies are made.
1. To act as or be the master of.
2. To make oneself a master of: mastered the language in a year’s study.
3. To overcome or defeat: He finally mastered his addiction to drugs.
4. To reduce to subjugation; break or tame (an animal, for example).
5. To produce a master audio recording for.
6. To season or age (dyed goods).
[Middle English, from Old English mgister, mægister
and Old French maistre
, both from Latin magister
; see meg-
in Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Master has been a productive source of compounds in English, evidenced by words such as masterpiece, concertmaster, mastermind, and masterstroke, to name just a few. It is also used frequently on its own as a noun, verb, and adjective, with meanings ranging from “an original document that is to be copied” to “a man who serves as the head of a household.” The latter sense lends the word masculine connotations, which, along with the word’s associations with the institutions of slavery, causes some people to be offended by the use of master in any form. Nonetheless, many senses of master, such as the noun sense “an expert” and the verb sense “to make oneself an expert at,” have long been thought of as gender-neutral and are in wide use. Some compounds, like masterpiece and master plan, have lost most, if not all, of their associations with maleness. They exist as distinct words, and people do not usually think of them as a combination of parts each containing a different meaning.