Definition of past master in US 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘That's micro-managing cost controls, something that he is a past master at, as the cabin attendants (cabin crew) are finding out.’
    • ‘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 candidate is a past master at managing this sort of development.’
    • ‘The Guardian is a past master at this type of political chicanery.’
    • ‘He is a past master at making campus capers without depending on superstars or big budgets.’
    • ‘He is a past master at this, taking delight in embarrassing his rivals on the road.’
    • ‘But he has become a past master at allowing people to project on to him views that he does not hold.’
    • ‘He was a past master at turning apparent disadvantages to strengths.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Yes, Apple is a past master at this, witness the 680x0 to PowerPC shift, but don't underestimate the effort involved.’
    • ‘The Dublin trainer, a past master at turning out hurdle winners, supplied the first two home.’
    • ‘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 then, he is a past master at having it both ways.’
    • ‘These leaders are past masters in bending the rhetoric of ideology to justify the corporate company they keep.’
    • ‘He is something of a past master at the old ‘privatization’ word game flimflam.’
    • ‘Needless to say, he was also a past master at this sort of thing.’
    • ‘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 is a past master at supply chain management by virtue of its immense buying power through its enlarged customer base.’
    expert, virtuoso, master, wizard, genius, artist, old hand, adept, professional, doyen, veteran, maestro, connoisseur, authority, grandmaster, master hand, skilled person
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  • 2A person who has held the position of master in an organization.


past master

/past ˈmastər//pæst ˈmæstər/