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’
    • ‘The Guardian is a past master at this type of political chicanery.’
    • ‘That's micro-managing cost controls, something that he is a past master at, as the cabin attendants (cabin crew) are finding out.’
    • ‘The candidate is a past master at managing this sort of development.’
    • ‘He is a past master at supply chain management by virtue of its immense buying power through its enlarged customer base.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He is a past master at this, taking delight in embarrassing his rivals on the road.’
    • ‘He was a past master at turning apparent disadvantages to strengths.’
    • ‘These leaders are past masters in bending the rhetoric of ideology to justify the corporate company they keep.’
    • ‘But then, he is a past master at having it both ways.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘Yes, Apple is a past master at this, witness the 680x0 to PowerPC shift, but don't underestimate the effort involved.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.


past master

/past ˈmastər/