Main definitions of master in English

: master1master2



  • 1historical A man who has people working for him, especially servants or slaves.

    ‘he acceded to his master's wishes’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Towns were also visited by plantation slaves, on their masters ' business or coming to sell the few vegetables and fruits they had managed to produce for market.’
    • ‘The old law of master and servant saw the master as the head of the family.’
    • ‘Buying them back from the master is disastrous, as it encourages the master to keep more slaves.’
    lord, overlord, lord and master, ruler, sovereign, monarch, liege, liege lord, suzerain
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A person who has complete control of something.
      ‘he was master of the situation’
      • ‘But for the Prime Minister, usually the great master of these situations, it was close to a disaster.’
      • ‘They were simply awesome, quite the masters of the situation.’
      • ‘Last evening, the master of all situations difficult went for a walk to make tough decisions.’
      • ‘Choice must be available, so that the photographer may remain master of the situation’
      • ‘Once masters of the situation, it is said, the zeal of those who promised reform mutated into a zeal to preserve their private wealth and that of their friends.’
      lord, overlord, lord and master, ruler, sovereign, monarch, liege, liege lord, suzerain
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2dated A male head of a household.
      ‘the master of the house’
      • ‘He is a father, a master of household, a countryman, and hence a consummate member of a community.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The head of the household was a master to whom all other members had to submit in exchange for his protection.’
      • ‘In fact, young men needed willing women to assist them in assuming the status of household masters.’
    3. 1.3 The owner of a dog, horse, or other domesticated animal.
      ‘in many ways dogs reflect the styles of their masters’
      • ‘The horse turned his head, regarding his master with confused eyes.’
      • ‘The young people looked at all the animals flying away, at the dogs that bit their masters and were surprised at their pet's behavior.’
      • ‘But wild animals have been known to turn on their masters and well-intentioned defenders.’
      • ‘A little more leaning around the tree and I saw two white horses, grazing while their masters were still preoccupied.’
      • ‘The forest was still and quiet; the horses watched their masters placidly.’
      • ‘With one crack of his whip into the air, the horses followed their master's command and began their foot cadence once again.’
      • ‘The men were getting closer, and the poor horse couldn't carry her master.’
      • ‘Remember also that the Guide Dog is a highly trained animal and will only heed the voice of his master.’
      • ‘They had slowed down a bit a while back, the horse perhaps sensing its master's grip was not as tight, or that he was not as attentive as usual.’
      • ‘A white horse taking to the air, with his master astride it and the groom hanging on to the tail, represents renunciation.’
      • ‘Even the animals knew their masters were excited, and were thus excited themselves.’
      • ‘In all hunting cultures there is an owner; sometimes a master, but more often a mistress of the beasts.’
      • ‘They also went a good distance away from the horse and its master.’
      • ‘The owners are not masters, but companions, say the volunteers.’
      • ‘In these stories, the horse accompanies his master through all kinds of hardships and danger.’
      • ‘The horse walked to his master, and Haiden mounted it the best he could without his vision.’
      • ‘It swam round the boat until its master, leaning over the bow, caught the animal by its short stump of a tail.’
      • ‘The animals on the farm revolt against their master, Jones.’
      • ‘His master got on after him, gave the horse a gentle kick, and she trotted towards the path leading out of the village.’
      • ‘I glared at her, the glare a maddened trapped animal gives its master.’
      owner, keeper
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4 A machine or device directly controlling another.
      as modifier ‘a master cylinder’
      Compare with slave
      • ‘The master and slave devices are connected by a single address bus, a write data bus and a read data bus.’
      • ‘Whenever a machine becomes master, it takes over the virtual server address and continues with its original.’
      • ‘One device acts as a master and the devices connected to it act as slaves.’
      • ‘The main advantage of the cluster is that the computation power depends on the number of computers one adds to the master machine.’
  • 2A man in charge of an organization or group.

    • ‘It's more like playing the game masters in a massive continuous role-playing session.’
    • ‘Success depends on an identity of goals between soldiers and their political masters, and a clear chain of command.’
    • ‘The council's political masters would rather watch while the city chokes than get serious about exhaust fumes.’
    • ‘They had to act according to the dictates of the political masters.’
    • ‘Promptly at 4: 15 p.m., we were instructed by master of ceremonies.’
    • ‘The vice-chairperson of the organising committee will be master of ceremonies.’
    • ‘It was my first time playing in an RPG, let alone being the game master for one.’
    • ‘In French Indo-China, the Japanese kept the former colonial masters in nominal command.’
    lord, overlord, lord and master, ruler, sovereign, monarch, liege, liege lord, suzerain
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1British A male schoolteacher.
      ‘the games master’
      • ‘All the cricketing vices for which prep school masters rebuke their charges were there.’
      • ‘Le Carré first met Green when the latter was chaplain and assistant master at Sherborne School, Dorset.’
      • ‘Look at him, walking around like he's the day master at a boarding school.’
      • ‘Although he was a languages teacher, he was originally taken on at the school as a PE master.’
      • ‘He is the school's third master, a housemaster and its head of Christian Theology.’
      • ‘He played the role throughout the series but his fellow pupils and the masters of Greyfriars School were portrayed by different actors during the show's long run.’
      • ‘From 1857 until 1865 he was mathematics master at Harrow School.’
      • ‘The master rattled off numbers at speed to be added, multiplied, etc and at the end hands shot up.’
      • ‘He heard some of the teachers and the academy master sorting through names.’
      • ‘In 1884 he went to Lancing College as a sixth-form master, developing an interest in Roman epigraphy in his leisure.’
      • ‘Gone are the days when schools had masters, who commanded respect be it in the classroom or on the playing fields.’
      • ‘At high school he was lucky to have a great hockey enthusiast as his school master.’
      • ‘The games master would insist on everyone rattling along the floor, pounding on the springboard and doing amazing acrobatics above the large wooden horse.’
      • ‘He noted that in most schools the art master was often not given much importance.’
      • ‘Then from 1874 to 1892 he was mathematics and science master at Glasgow High School.’
      • ‘To earn a living he became the art master in a school for young ladies in Liverpool.’
      • ‘When he protested his innocence, his schoolmates sided with the master.’
      • ‘There was famously, possibly apocryphally, a public school classics master who took early retirement to go and become a Masai wife.’
      • ‘The master of the public school said he was unable to make any further comment.’
      teacher, schoolteacher, schoolmaster, tutor, instructor, pedagogue
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 The head of a college or school.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He held the regius chair of Greek at Oxford for nearly 40 years and was master of Balliol College for more than 20 years.’
      • ‘The essays have to be attested by the class teacher or the head masters of the respective school.’
      • ‘First there was a general interview at which the candidates were grilled by the master, dean, senior tutor, and fellows of the subject.’
    3. 2.3 The presiding officer of a livery company or Masonic lodge.
      • ‘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
      View synonyms
    4. 2.4 The captain of a merchant ship.
      • ‘He was now the master of three ships and employed over two-dozen individuals.’
      • ‘Long ago masters of ships found it comforting to find such beacons of light in the darkness.’
      • ‘Heather, who will work with three crew, qualified as a ship's master in 1979.’
      • ‘The master of the ship gives him a look of reproach, but says nothing.’
      • ‘The assured, if not present, would receive notice of the disaster from his agent, the master of the ship.’
      • ‘The boatswain and master of the ship appear to say that it has been magically repaired and that the crew is safe.’
      • ‘When the passage was half over, I observed the ship's master in tears arguing with his men, which made me very uneasy.’
      • ‘Your Honour, there were two parties prosecuted in each case, the master of the ship and the owner of the ship.’
      • ‘A mariner emerges from the hatchway and climbs the rigging, while below the boatswain and ship's master are thrown about on deck.’
      • ‘The ship's master, observing this, remarked, ‘I would give a hundred guineas for the faith of that child’.’
      • ‘What the plaintiffs did then was to sue the purchasers of the indigo, which had been sold by the master of the ship, for the balance.’
      • ‘They were able to swim down and then out of the hull to join eight other tourists and the yacht's master on the deck linking the hulls of the upturned craft.’
      • ‘First, you are a ship's master called upon to rescue some 430 people in the Indian Ocean.’
      • ‘The term used here refers to the command of a ship's master to his men, or a military officer to his soldiers.’
      • ‘Three crew members, including the ship's master, are being questioned, according to a government statement.’
      • ‘Safety used to be a matter for the ship's master but he now has a computer programme in his office to alert him whenever a scheduled safety inspection is due on any of his boats.’
      • ‘A large island was named Thistle's Island, after the ship's master and one of the eight drowned.’
      • ‘During the trip, Jones unexpectedly became the ship's master when its captain and first mate died suddenly.’
      • ‘As dawn broke, with the master's consent, sailors from the ship boarded the vessel.’
      • ‘The master of the ship was in command at the time of the incident.’
      captain, skipper, commander
      View synonyms
    5. 2.5 The person in control of a pack of hounds.
      ‘the master of the Aylesbury Vale Hunt’
      • ‘He said: ‘I have already had two fox hounds masters on the phone today to say it's a shabby deal.’’
      • ‘The poisoning of hounds forced half a dozen masters of packs of foxhounds to abandon hunting altogether, to the detriment of the local economy.’
      • ‘I can't see any master of hounds wanting to keep a pack of animals when they are serving no purpose.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The mens' horns sounded in triumph, and the master of hounds set his dogs baying.’
    6. 2.6 (in England and Wales) an official of the Supreme Court.
      • ‘A master of the B.C. Supreme Court dismissed both these applications.’
      • ‘All the judges and masters who have heard this say you are wrong and it seems to me that they are right.’
      • ‘It seems to me that neither the master nor the deputy judge made any error of law.’
      • ‘The trial master held that the plaintiff could not recover anything.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘Both have great natural charisma and both are masters at telling a story in the ring.’
    • ‘It attracted some of the most learned, and sometimes also the most arrogant scholars of doctrine and masters of ritual practice.’
    • ‘Which brings us back to the new album, in which the master of disguise exposes his true self at last.’
    • ‘The Professor is a natural master at explaining, with great clarity, highly complex issues without losing the viewer.’
    • ‘He above all is a master of narrative, and these speeded-up interventions lend the tale an irregular pulse.’
    • ‘It was indeed the activity of the geniuses, of the masters of their craft, that made the rules.’
    • ‘He is a master of disguise and concealment.’
    • ‘He may be 40 this year, but he's also a master of disguise, an expert in the art of disappearing without trace.’
    • ‘When he wants to be, he is a master of the macabre and a skilled technician of suspense.’
    • ‘It really is like camping out under the stars, said the master of the ancient craft.’
    • ‘He was a diligent preparation type of coach who really was a master of the practice.’
    • ‘I feel sure that the new generation of practitioners has no less talent than that of the great masters of the past.’
    • ‘He was a master of disguise who used walnut juice to change the colour of his skin and would contort his face to avoid recognition.’
    • ‘Strength, compassion, honor and skill elevate the practitioner to the master.’
    • ‘Yet Maugham was one of the great masters of clever narrative and construction, with a surprising range when it came to characters.’
    • ‘The FBI agent is tough, smart, and a master of disguise.’
    • ‘The boy was a master of disguise; I could never see him until he was standing beside me, talking to me.’
    • ‘The play is a thriller about the talented Mr Tom Ripley who is a master of deceit and disguise.’
    • ‘A knight should be skilled in all weapons but a master in at least two.’
    • ‘I am far from a master, but given some of my natural abilities, I quickly rose through my apprenticeship.’
    expert, adept, genius, past master, maestro, virtuoso, professional, doyen, authority, pundit, master hand, prodigy, grandmaster, champion, star
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 A great artist or musician.
      ‘follow in the footsteps of the masters and paint in locations made famous by their work’
      • ‘They were consummate musicians and masters of their instruments, and the listener is in very good hands with these gentlemen.’
      • ‘There he studied with both Canova and Thorvaldsen, the leading masters of Neoclassical sculpture.’
      • ‘He could have become a great master of Japanese printmaking of the Meiji era.’
      • ‘Two separate exhibitions focus on the drawings and oil sketches of the Flemish master.’
      • ‘His watercolours, for instance, have been influenced by such masters as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Henri Matisse.’
      • ‘This year, visitors can enjoy works by Surrealist masters such as Andre Masson and Giacometti, as well as work by Picasso.’
      • ‘The Golden Age produced the works of Rembrandt, Vermeer and other Dutch masters.’
      • ‘The figures of his angels are elongated, with wings stretched upward as if they were sculpted by the Gothic masters.’
      • ‘He also challenged the earlier masters by painting portraits of local people over the original western works.’
      • ‘Most musicians/artists aren't at the level of great masters of art, he admitted.’
      • ‘She developed her early attraction to painting after discovering the Renaissance masters during a childhood trip to Italy.’
      • ‘Especially famous are the work of such masters as Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Vermeer, and Jacob van Ruisdael.’
      • ‘It featured more than 250 works by 20 masters drawn from the museum's extensive holdings.’
      • ‘He plans to specialize in such masters as Picasso, Warhol, Yves Klein and Sonia and Robert Delaunay.’
      • ‘All the collected works from the seven-week event are currently on show alongside masters like Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dali.’
      • ‘To achieve it, he studied the work of the Japanese masters Utamaro and Hokusai.’
      • ‘For example, in the 18th century, there was a trend to paint works as similar as possible to those of the earlier masters.’
      • ‘The most notable of these artists is the master of French Impressionism Pierre-Auguste Renoir.’
      • ‘Below the grand galleries and displays of old and modern masters, the Royal Academy is investing in a new generation of artists.’
      • ‘The exhibition will also explore the influence of Venetian masters Titian and Tintoretto and will include work by Canaletto.’
    2. 3.2 A very strong chess player, especially one who has qualified for the title at international tournaments.
      ‘a chess master’
      See also grand master
      • ‘Many of the greatest masters have recommended that chess should be studied from the endgame.’
      • ‘Similar to chess masters, analysts look for convergent lines to indicate the possibility of attack.’
      • ‘If you wish to be a chess master, at least a basic understanding of most openings is called for.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Did the old chess masters know something the modern champions don't?’
    3. 3.3treated as singular (in some sports) a class for competitors over the usual age for the highest level of competition.
      • ‘At issue was a possible protest at the club where the Masters will be played next April.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It turned out that year's Masters was the most enjoyable tournament I have ever played.’
      • ‘The Embassy World Championship and the Masters will remain separate from the main tour.’
  • 4usually in titles A person who holds a second or further degree.

    ‘a master's degree’
    ‘a Master of Arts’
    • ‘Most of them possessed master's degrees, and a few had earned their doctorates.’
    • ‘After completing his degree in Mechanical Engineering, he took a masters degree and doctorate in engineering in Canada.’
    • ‘You will need more than a bachelor's, master's or Ph.D. degree to be successful in the new millennium.’
    • ‘He spent six years at the university before graduating with a master's degree in physics.’
    • ‘The number of researchers has doubled, and a larger proportion now have master's degrees and doctorates.’
    • ‘The instructor was a registered nurse who had master's degree preparation.’
    • ‘I attended Oxford, and graduated with a master's degree in liberal arts.’
    • ‘Although she desired a good job, Lin knew that she was not as competent as graduates with bachelor's and master's degrees.’
    • ‘He received his bachelor's degree, master's degree and Ph.D. from Stanford University.’
    • ‘So he became a full-time student to get a master's degree in finance.’
    • ‘My department offers bachelor's and master's degrees but not a doctorate.’
    • ‘Both men are currently pursuing master's degrees in preparation for future careers outside the church.’
    • ‘Higher education is defined as involving programs that award bachelor's, master's or doctorate degrees.’
    • ‘He has a law degree and a master's degree in classical studies from Columbia University.’
    • ‘She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in piano performance and pedagogy.’
    • ‘He is a graduate of UH with master's degrees in Pacific Studies and History.’
    • ‘He holds double bachelors and master's degrees and has an extensive background of teaching and publishing.’
    • ‘Graduate study typically refers to programs that award master's or doctorate degrees.’
    • ‘Some had master's and doctorate degrees, and some were Party members.’
    • ‘At the early age of fourteen he graduated with the degree of master of law.’
    1. 4.1 A postgraduate degree.
      ‘I had a master's in computer engineering’
      • ‘Vaughn is currently in graduate school pursuing a master's in business administration.’
      • ‘I wanted to work on my own films, so I began work on my master's at Concordia.’
      • ‘He grew up in New Jersey and did his master's in Virginia and then stayed on to work at NASA Langley.’
      • ‘When I learned of the chance, I decided to study abroad, finishing my master's at a French university where I could hone my new skill.’
      • ‘After the Olympics, I hope to attend graduate school and complete a master's in education.’
      • ‘Since graduating from the University of Ulster with a master's in 1999 he has had numerous exhibitions in Ireland and London.’
      • ‘Chia is currently pursuing a master's in developmental studies in The Netherlands.’
      • ‘Lorenzo has a master's in communications from Boston University.’
      • ‘The two-campus program will give students bachelor's degree training as well as "the required foundation to pursue master's and doctoral studies in nursing," the statement said.’
      • ‘My master's thesis looks at the careers of Antonio Brico, Margaret Hillis, and Sarah Caldwell, three women conductors whose careers started in the early to mid 20th Century.’
      • ‘Some took the educational route, often majoring in political science or some related field, then attending law school or taking a master's in public affairs.’
      • ‘I went to Boston University for my master's in communications without any real idea of what I was going to do.’
      • ‘He completed his BFA in Manitoba and was accepted to do his master's at Ohio State University.’
      • ‘Corliss has a bachelor's degree from Saint Joseph's College in Philadelphia and a master's in film studies from Columbia University.’
      • ‘Schoeman averaged 92,79 % throughout her years of study, and her master's thesis was described by two overseas academics as of "PhD standard".’
  • 5Used as a title prefixed to the name of a boy not old enough to be called ‘Mr’

    ‘Master James Wishart’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Master Charles readily assented to his mother's proposal, and proceeded at once to the smoke-house to let Maria out.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 5.1archaic A title for a man of high rank or learning.
      • ‘The same year there came into England Master John, a Scot by nation, a man of an apprehensive mind and of singular eloquence.’
    2. 5.2 The title of the heir apparent of a Scottish viscount or baron.
      • ‘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’
    • ‘Much less, don't be offended if they take the master tapes home and record over them.’
    • ‘The final activities prior to pressing the master disc were completed during this phase.’
    • ‘They also want to own your master recordings and copyrights forever.’
    • ‘But the NFB gave me the opportunity to make new masters of all of my films, so I went in with a colourist to make them visually perfect.’
    • ‘Most of their tapes are masters from Japan so you get the best audio and video quality.’
    • ‘The Sydney-based production company was willing to dub episodes from the masters, but only at a prohibitive cost.’
    • ‘The quality is also poor because the transfer was taken from a tape master rather than the original 35 mm print.’
    • ‘The final step is to transfer from the MiniDV master tape to VHS using the camcorder's phono outputs.’
    • ‘The soundtrack master seems to have been in good shape, as there is little trace of any kind of background distortions or hiss.’
    • ‘Carrying sufficient spatial resolution and bit depth in the digital master to meet foreseeable uses comes at some cost.’
    • ‘All the episodes are taken from original video masters, and now and then you notice some video noise or interference from their age.’
    • ‘She admits that she has misplaced the masters of some of her earliest films and welcomes the new requirement.’
    • ‘I do not fault BFS Video for this, as the aforementioned problems seem to stem from the original master.’
    • ‘The transfers are as good as they can be, given the state of the video master tapes these were culled from.’
    • ‘The videos all look fairly good, as if derived from the original masters.’
    • ‘Make sure to send the master because making a copy lowers the video quality so much that a company will automatically reject it.’
    original, archetype, prototype
    View synonyms


  • 1attributive Having 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’
    • ‘Like a master painter, he uses each element as much as needed- and in the right places.’
    • ‘There are few master tailors around these days.’
    • ‘While not a master tactician, he occasionally displayed flashes of brilliance.’
    • ‘The one highway is the river, hence the Saramaka are expert canoeists and master canoe-builders.’
    • ‘He combines the skills of a master dramatist with a social conscience and a tremendous sense of how to engage young people in live theatre.’
    • ‘Palau has long been a site of research in marine biology, building upon the scientific skills of Palauan master fishermen.’
    • ‘Under the tutelage of master painters, amateurs get to learn how to give shape to their creativity.’
    • ‘The prose is taut and beautifully crafted, the story is woven with the intricate expertise of a master craftsman.’
    • ‘The exhibition also features art works from master painters such as Picasso, Chagall, Rembrandt and Miro.’
    • ‘When a master painter would gaze upon a supposed masterpiece of his amateur years he would spit upon it.’
    • ‘During the six weeks they will also get master classes from experts, to help them with their competition entry.’
    • ‘Wielding his blade like a master painter, his palette holds only one colour, and that is crimson.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘After his journeyman years, which took him as far as Venice, he registered as a master painter in Augsburg in 1534.’
    • ‘However, this is still a very moving work by a master filmmaker and a performer with skills to match.’
    • ‘He has also claimed to be a master hacker himself, in addition to being a financial wizard.’
    • ‘The colour concepts in the latest collection are rich and saturate the eye like the works of the Impressionist master painter Monet.’
    • ‘He tells the tale of the precocious and gifted son of master court painter, who grows up illiterate but an exceptionally brilliant painter.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 Denoting a person skilled in a particular trade and able to teach others.
      ‘a master bricklayer’
      • ‘You don't need to be a master carpenter, but some basic skills and basic tools are necessary.’
      • ‘We have neglected vocational training, which can be given only in the workplace by experienced master craftsmen.’
      • ‘In this way, the book is only practical for the master carpenter but perhaps not the apprentice.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Our country has the pride of having master craftsmen who carve out exquisite products with their deft hands.’
      expert, adept, proficient, skilled, skilful, deft, dexterous, adroit, practised, experienced, masterly, accomplished, demon, brilliant
      View synonyms
  • 2attributive Main; principal.

    ‘the apartment's master bathroom has a free-standing oval bathtub’
    • ‘A circular whirlpool tub takes spotlight in the splendid master bathroom, facing the huge walk-in shower.’
    • ‘The master bedroom is ensuite and has a walk-in wardrobe with shelves.’
    • ‘I've added this season's performances to my master list of my 50 favorite performances.’
    • ‘The master bathroom alone was larger than some apartments I've lived in.’
    • ‘Straight ahead is the master bath, which separates the master bedroom on the left and the guest room/study on the right.’
    • ‘The master brake cylinder is now made of aluminum - better overall quality.’
    • ‘There are two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a spa-like master suite with a steam shower.’
    • ‘On the first floor there is a master bedroom with en-suite shower room and balcony, and a second bedroom/study.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There is also room for eight guests in the four ensuite cabins, including a master stateroom and VIP bedroom.’
    principal, main, chief, leading, prime, predominant, foremost, great, grand, most important, biggest
    View synonyms


[with object]
  • 1Acquire complete knowledge or skill in (a subject, technique, or art)

    ‘I never mastered Latin’
    • ‘Without mastering the basic techniques before adding new ones, it's impossible to really practise well.’
    • ‘Some of them possess the skills of astute politicians, and others have mastered the art of the political game.’
    • ‘Besides exercising, you need to learn to master the art of relaxing mentally and not worry about everything around you.’
    • ‘The level of skill and courage needed to master the dangerous art of skateboarding at its highest level is truly awesome.’
    • ‘His technique of completely mastering a topic before drawing it allowed for this high level of demonstrative skill.’
    • ‘Alex can ride the unicycle, lie on a bed of nails, spin plates, juggle, deliver gags and is now mastering the art of puppetry.’
    • ‘He studied his opponents, learned their moves and dedicated himself to mastering the techniques necessary to stop them.’
    • ‘It was a time when creating a role meant believing in the art rather than simply mastering the technique.’
    • ‘The people that dwelled here 8,000 years ago had learned to irrigate the land by means of canals and ditches, and had mastered the arts of agriculture.’
    • ‘A 15-year-old girl would be tattooed on the cheeks when she had mastered the art of weaving.’
    • ‘Since there is so much to learn, they often feel it is a waste of time to master any one subject or skill.’
    • ‘Artists and craftsmen learn and master the techniques of their craft and pass on the traditions to their sons and daughters.’
    • ‘There's always a new skill to be mastered or a new technique to be learned.’
    • ‘He was a wonderful architect and builder of fiction, who had mastered the art of the novel through years of sustained writing.’
    • ‘As with most photographic techniques, mastering the technique is the easy part.’
    • ‘Treatment strategies for asthma include daily self-management that relies on acquiring and mastering specific knowledge and skills.’
    • ‘A student must pass 10 levels of the training programme to master the art.’
    • ‘No other society has mastered this art as well as we have.’
    • ‘Everyone's goal is to learn and master this martial art as far as possible.’
    • ‘For instance, a career in classical music is available to only a few privileged individuals; most people do not have the leisure to devote their lives to mastering the musical arts.’
    learn, learn thoroughly, become proficient in, know inside out, know backwards, become expert in, acquire, pick up, grasp, understand
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  • 2Gain control of; overcome.

    ‘I managed to master my fears’
    • ‘The good news is that once you master your emotions, you can gain an edge.’
    • ‘Humans then have a God given right to control and master nature.’
    • ‘You get a special hug if you guess who masters his fears and helps solve the puzzle.’
    • ‘Even people outside of these niches would have something to gain by mastering this device.’
    • ‘In a sense, change is a sacred event that can be welcomed by the therapist, but not mastered or controlled.’
    • ‘The majority of Asian cultures regard man as part of nature and believe that man should not try to overcome or master nature but should learn to adapt to it harmoniously.’
    • ‘He'd insisted that the best way to master one's fears was to confront them.’
    • ‘I sighed heavily, relived that he was not ill, but now trying to master a new fear.’
    • ‘She threw her hands up in joy when she managed to master it.’
    • ‘At the same time, she says that mastering anxiety and fear by going through with the thing you're afraid of is a very powerful part of the thrill.’
    • ‘How he completed those missions, and mastered his fear, is the story he has set out to tell.’
    • ‘This is an integral part of the perspective to overcome class antagonisms and enable the working class to master society.’
    • ‘I managed to master the impulse as I watched my drama friends do awesome in the first half of the first act.’
    • ‘Personality explores what it is that makes us who we are and uncovers the universal battle to master our emotions and control our behaviour.’
    • ‘Not only did they master the elements but they showed some beautiful ball control in the process.’
    • ‘Jack and Mike laughed out loud at his reaction, watched as he unsuccessfully tried to master his fear and loathing.’
    • ‘I still don't like doing it and have to psych myself up to it but I am starting to master the fear.’
    • ‘Soldiers need to be sensitized to the effects of fear and have tools to master their fears.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But he was mastered by his fears and Lee's relentless aggressiveness, and his promising campaign came to nothing.’
    overcome, conquer, beat, quell, quash, suppress, control, repress, restrain, overpower, triumph over, subdue, vanquish, subjugate, hegemonize, prevail over, govern, curb, check, bridle, tame, defeat, get the better of, get a grip on, get over, gain mastery over
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  • 3Make a master copy of (a film or recording)

    ‘all records are now being mastered and manufactured for us in the Netherlands’
    • ‘The Dolby Digital sound is well mastered free of any distortion or hiss while the voices stay focused in the front channel.’
    • ‘I wish someone would properly master this recording so that I can truly judge the overall quality.’
    • ‘First, the films appear to have been mastered off of a Beta source.’
    • ‘The sound is also strong, with most of the films mastered in either Dolby 5.1 surround or stereo.’
    • ‘Georgie also called on Robyn to master the recording.’


  • 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’
      • ‘He is his own master and disciple in iconography.’
      • ‘The abolition of slavery recognized the pre-existing right of everyone to be his own master; it did not create such a right.’
      • ‘When these people encounter a situation that they cannot solve - where they must be their own master - they just give up.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I felt I could share with her the whole scope of emotions I was going through, and yet be my own master in the process.’
      • ‘No matter what happens, you shall never be your own master, not entirely.’
      • ‘He decided that he would be his own master trying to make good on his moves all by himself.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was never given the chance to be his own master.’
      • ‘Jacob is his own master, and it is at his choosing when it comes to sharing his life.’
  • make oneself master of

    • Acquire a thorough knowledge of or facility in.

      ‘he made himself master of the political philosophy of Burke’
      • ‘The important secret of war is to make oneself master of the communications’


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




Main definitions of master in English

: master1master2



  • in combination A ship or boat with a specified number of masts.

    ‘a three-master’
    • ‘Technically speaking, a three master is a full-rigged ship.’
    • ‘Here, Bruegel depicted a four-master and two three-masters anchored near a fortified island capped by a lighthouse.’