The original of something (like a recording) is the master. Masters are also experts in fields, from karate to painting.

Master actors are brilliant actors: they've mastered the skill of acting: maybe they have a Master of Fine Arts degree. It takes a long time to master anything. The master is the head of a school. People with servants, pets, and (during a horrible period in our history) slaves were called masters. A master key opens many doors, and when you master something, you are extremely good at it. An A+ on a test shows you mastered the material.

Primary Meanings of master

a person who has general authority over others
most important element
have dominance or the power to defeat over
an artist of consummate skill
have a firm understanding or knowledge of; be on top of
someone who holds a master's degree from academic institution
key that secures entrance everywhere
Full Definitions of master

n a person who has general authority over others

lord, overlord
feudal lord, seigneur, seignior
a man of rank in the ancient regime
liege, liege lord
a feudal lord entitled to allegiance and service
Type of:
ruler, swayer
a person who rules or commands

n directs the work of others

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the person in charge of a post office
someone who directs clandestine intelligence activities
station agent, stationmaster
the person in charge of a railway station
a woman postmaster
Type of:
a person or firm that employs workers

n presiding officer of a school

headmaster, schoolmaster
teacher in charge of a school boardinghouse
Type of:
head, head teacher, principal, school principal
the educator who has executive authority for a school

n an officer who is licensed to command a merchant ship

captain, sea captain, skipper
Captain Kidd
Scottish sea captain who was hired to protect British shipping in the Indian Ocean and then was accused of piracy and hanged (1645-1701)
Type of:
officer, ship's officer
a person authorized to serve in a position of authority on a vessel

adj most important element

“the master bedroom”
“a master switch”
chief, main, primary, principal
important, of import
of great significance or value

v have dominance or the power to defeat over

“Her pain completely mastered her”
“The methods can master the problems”
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be in command of
subject, subjugate
make subservient; force to submit or subdue
command as a general
direct or command as an officer
subjugate by imposing troops
make a slave of; bring into servitude
Type of:
command, control
exercise authoritative control or power over

n an artist of consummate skill

“a master of the violin”
“one of the old masters
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Hieronymus Bosch
Dutch painter (1450-1516)
Alessandro di Mariano dei Filipepi
Italian painter of mythological and religious paintings (1444-1510)
Pieter Brueghel the Elder
Flemish painter of landscapes (1525-1569)
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Italian painter noted for his realistic depiction of religious subjects and his novel use of light (1573-1610)
Giovanni Cimabue
painter of the Florentine school; anticipated the move from Byzantine to naturalistic art (1240-1302)
Antonio Allegri da Correggio
Italian painter noted for his use of chiaroscuro and perspective (1494-1534)
Albrecht Durer
a leading German painter and engraver of the Renaissance (1471-1528)
Domenikos Theotocopoulos
Spanish painter (born in Greece) remembered for his religious works characterized by elongated human forms and dramatic use of color (1541-1614)
Jan van Eyck
Flemish painter who was a founder of the Flemish school of painting and who pioneered modern techniques of oil painting (1390-1441)
Giotto di Bondone
Florentine painter who gave up the stiff Byzantine style and developed a more naturalistic style; considered the greatest Italian painter prior to the Renaissance (1267-1337)
Frans Hals
Dutch portrait and genre painter who endowed his portraits with vitality and humor (1580?-1666)
William Hogarth
English artist noted for a series of engravings that satirized the affectations of his time (1697-1764)
Holbein the Elder
German painter of religious works (1465-1524)
Holbein the Younger
German painter and engraver noted for his portraits; he was commissioned by Henry VIII to provide portraits of the English king's prospective brides (1497-1543)
Georges de La Tour
French painter of religious works (1593-1652)
Leonardo da Vinci
Italian painter and sculptor and engineer and scientist and architect; the most versatile genius of the Italian Renaissance (1452-1519)
Fra Filippo Lippi
Italian painter whose works show a three-dimensional style (1406-1469)
Filippino Lippi
Italian painter and son of Fra Filippo Lippi (1457-1504)
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Florentine sculptor and painter and architect; one of the outstanding figures of the Renaissance (1475-1564)
Nicolas Poussin
French painter in the classical style (1594-1665)
Raffaello Sanzio
Italian painter whose many paintings exemplify the ideals of the High Renaissance (1483-1520)
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn
influential Dutch artist (1606-1669)
Pierre Auguste Renoir
French impressionist painter (1841-1919)
Sir Peter Paul Rubens
prolific Flemish baroque painter; knighted by the English king Charles I (1577-1640)
Jan Steen
Dutch genre painter (1626-1679)
Jacopo Robusti
Italian painter of the Venetian school (1518-1594)
Tiziano Vecellio
old master of the Venetian school (1490-1576)
Sir Anthony Vandyke
Flemish painter of numerous portraits (1599-1641)
Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez
Spanish painter (1599-1660)
Jan van der Meer
Dutch painter renowned for his use of light (1632-1675)
Paolo Veronese
Italian painter of the Venetian school (1528-1588)
Jean Antoine Watteau
French painter (1684-1721)
old master
a great European painter prior to 19th century
Type of:
artist, creative person
a person whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination

n an authority qualified to teach apprentices

past master
someone who was formerly a master
Type of:
an expert whose views are taken as definitive

n a combatant who is able to defeat rivals

superior, victor
Alexander the Great
king of Macedon; conqueror of Greece and Egypt and Persia; founder of Alexandria (356-323 BC)
conqueror, vanquisher
someone who is victorious by force of arms
a conqueror who defeats and enslaves
Type of:
battler, belligerent, combatant, fighter, scrapper
someone who fights (or is fighting)

v have a firm understanding or knowledge of; be on top of

control, operate
handle and cause to function
get a grip on; get mastery of
Type of:
know how to do or perform something

v be or become completely proficient or skilled in

“She mastered Japanese in less than two years”
get the hang
Type of:
know how to do or perform something

v get on top of; deal with successfully

get over, overcome, subdue, surmount
throw a steer by seizing the horns and twisting the neck, as in a rodeo
Type of:
beat, beat out, crush, shell, trounce, vanquish
come out better in a competition, race, or conflict

n someone who holds a master's degree from academic institution

Type of:
bookman, scholar, scholarly person, student
a learned person (especially in the humanities); someone who by long study has gained mastery in one or more disciplines

n key that secures entrance everywhere

master key, passe-partout, passkey
skeleton key
a passkey with much of the bit filed away so that it can open different locks
Type of:
metal device shaped in such a way that when it is inserted into the appropriate lock the lock's mechanism can be rotated

n an original creation (i.e., an audio recording) from which copies can be made

master copy, original
Type of:
an artifact that has been brought into existence by someone

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