Many people have to agree that a painting or a novel is wonderful, and they usually need to feel that way for years, in order for it to be considered a true masterpiece.

An artist or writer is generally capable of creating only one masterpiece in her lifetime, if she makes a masterpiece at all. When an art historian or English teacher uses it, the word masterpiece implies a truly sublime, amazing creation. You can also describe something that's simply great as a masterpiece, like the seven-layer chocolate cake your mom baked for your birthday. Masterpiece comes from the Dutch meesterstuk, "work by which a craftsman attains the rank of master."

Definitions of masterpiece

n the most outstanding work of a creative artist or craftsman

Type of:
piece of work, work
a product produced or accomplished through the effort or activity or agency of a person or thing

n an outstanding achievement

Type of:
accomplishment, achievement
the action of accomplishing something

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.