The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Master \Mas"ter\ (m[.a]s"t[~e]r), n. [OE. maistre, maister, OF.
maistre, mestre, F. ma[^i]tre, fr. L. magister, orig. a
double comparative from the root of magnus great, akin to Gr.
me`gas. Cf. Maestro, Magister, Magistrate, Magnitude,
Major, Mister, Mistress, Mickle.]
1. A male person having another living being so far subject
to his will, that he can, in the main, control his or its
actions; -- formerly used with much more extensive
application than now.
(a) The employer of a servant.
(b) The owner of a slave.
(c) The person to whom an apprentice is articled.
(d) A sovereign, prince, or feudal noble; a chief, or one
exercising similar authority.
(e) The head of a household.
(f) The male head of a school or college.
(g) A male teacher.
(h) The director of a number of persons performing a
ceremony or sharing a feast.
(i) The owner of a docile brute, -- especially a dog or
(j) The controller of a familiar spirit or other
2. One who uses, or controls at will, anything inanimate; as,
to be master of one's time. --Shak.
Master of a hundred thousand drachms. --Addison.
We are masters of the sea. --Jowett
3. One who has attained great skill in the use or application
of anything; as, a master of oratorical art.
Great masters of ridicule. --Macaulay.
No care is taken to improve young men in their own
language, that they may thoroughly understand and be
masters of it. --Locke.
4. A title given by courtesy, now commonly pronounced
m[i^]ster, except when given to boys; -- sometimes written
Mister, but usually abbreviated to Mr.
5. A young gentleman; a lad, or small boy.
Where there are little masters and misses in a
house, they are impediments to the diversions of the
6. (Naut.) The commander of a merchant vessel; -- usually
called captain. Also, a commissioned officer in the navy
ranking next above ensign and below lieutenant; formerly,
an officer on a man-of-war who had immediate charge, under
the commander, of sailing the vessel.
7. A person holding an office of authority among the
Freemasons, esp. the presiding officer; also, a person
holding a similar office in other civic societies.
Little masters, certain German engravers of the 16th
century, so called from the extreme smallness of their
Master in chancery, an officer of courts of equity, who
acts as an assistant to the chancellor or judge, by
inquiring into various matters referred to him, and
reporting thereon to the court.
Master of arts, one who takes the second degree at a
university; also, the degree or title itself, indicated by
the abbreviation M. A., or A. M.
Master of the horse, the third great officer in the British
court, having the management of the royal stables, etc. In
ceremonial cavalcades he rides next to the sovereign.
Master of the rolls, in England, an officer who has charge
of the rolls and patents that pass the great seal, and of
the records of the chancery, and acts as assistant judge
of the court. --Bouvier. --Wharton.
(a) one who has held the office of master in a lodge of
Freemasons or in a society similarly organized.
(b) a person who is unusually expert, skilled, or
experienced in some art, technique, or profession; --
usually used with at or of.
The old masters, distinguished painters who preceded modern
painters; especially, the celebrated painters of the 16th
and 17th centuries.
To be master of one's self, to have entire self-control;
not to be governed by passion.
To be one's own master, to be at liberty to act as one
chooses without dictation from anybody.
Note: Master, signifying chief, principal, masterly,
superior, thoroughly skilled, etc., is often used
adjectively or in compounds; as, master builder or
master-builder, master chord or master-chord, master
mason or master-mason, master workman or
master-workman, master mechanic, master mind, master
spirit, master passion, etc.
Throughout the city by the master gate.
Master joint (Geol.), a quarryman's term for the more
prominent and extended joints traversing a rock mass.
Master key, a key adapted to open several locks differing
somewhat from each other; figuratively, a rule or
principle of general application in solving difficulties.
Master lode (Mining), the principal vein of ore.
Master mariner, an experienced and skilled seaman who is
certified to be competent to command a merchant vessel.
Master sinew (Far.), a large sinew that surrounds the hough
of a horse, and divides it from the bone by a hollow
place, where the windgalls are usually seated.
Master singer. See Mastersinger.
Master stroke, a capital performance; a masterly
achievement; a consummate action; as, a master stroke of
Master tap (Mech.), a tap for forming the thread in a screw
(a) The touch or skill of a master. --Pope.
(b) Some part of a performance which exhibits very
skillful work or treatment. "Some master touches of
this admirable piece." --Tatler.
Master work, the most important work accomplished by a
skilled person, as in architecture, literature, etc.;
also, a work which shows the skill of a master; a
Master workman, a man specially skilled in any art,
handicraft, or trade, or who is an overseer, foreman, or