Definition of past master in English:

past master


  • 1A person who is particularly skilled at a specified activity or art.

    ‘he's a past master at keeping his whereabouts secret’
    • ‘He is something of a past master at the old ‘privatization’ word game flimflam.’
    • ‘There are already indications that this politician, a past master at cynical political manipulation, is prepared to use the carrot as well as the stick with opposition parties.’
    • ‘But he has become a past master at allowing people to project on to him views that he does not hold.’
    • ‘Needless to say, he was also a past master at this sort of thing.’
    • ‘These leaders are past masters in bending the rhetoric of ideology to justify the corporate company they keep.’
    • ‘He is a past master at sending out novices to win big handicaps and I've been following the latter named six-year-old's progress since riding him in a couple of uphill canters on the trainer's Gloucestershire gallops in March last year.’
    • ‘He had spent a lifetime, the full three score years and ten, as a British subject, and he was a past master at the art of political realism and compromise.’
    • ‘He is a past master at making campus capers without depending on superstars or big budgets.’
    • ‘The gelding missed the whole of last season, but he is a past master at getting horses fit enough to do themselves justice after a lay-off.’
    • ‘But then, he is a past master at having it both ways.’
    • ‘He is a past master at supply chain management by virtue of its immense buying power through its enlarged customer base.’
    • ‘Time spent waiting around fruitlessly for repair men plus money spent should equal problem fixed, but Benedict was a past master at cutting corners.’
    • ‘The Dublin trainer, a past master at turning out hurdle winners, supplied the first two home.’
    • ‘Yes, Apple is a past master at this, witness the 680x0 to PowerPC shift, but don't underestimate the effort involved.’
    • ‘Although 30 is young for a composer's operatic debut on such an international stage, he is something of a past master at facing such pressure.’
    • ‘That's micro-managing cost controls, something that he is a past master at, as the cabin attendants (cabin crew) are finding out.’
    • ‘The Guardian is a past master at this type of political chicanery.’
    • ‘The candidate is a past master at managing this sort of development.’
    • ‘He was a past master at turning apparent disadvantages to strengths.’
    • ‘He is a past master at this, taking delight in embarrassing his rivals on the road.’
    expert, virtuoso, master, wizard, genius, artist, old hand, adept, professional, doyen, veteran, maestro, connoisseur, authority, grandmaster, master hand, skilled person
    ace, buff, pro, star, whizz, hotshot, ninja
    dab hand
    maven, crackerjack
    View synonyms
  • 2A person who has held the position of master in an organization.

    ‘he was a past master of the City Company of Grocers’


past master