adjective Date: 15th century 1. a. inclined and usually competent to act as master b. suggestive of a domineering nature 2. having or reflecting the power and skill of a master • masterfully adverbmasterfulness noun Synonyms: masterful, domineering, imperious, peremptory, imperative mean tending to impose one's will on others. masterful implies a strong personality and ability to act authoritatively <
her masterful personality soon dominated the movement
. domineering suggests an overbearing or arbitrary manner and an obstinate determination to enforce one's will <
children controlled by domineering parents
. imperious implies a commanding nature or manner and often suggests arrogant assurance <
an imperious executive used to getting his own way
. peremptory implies an abrupt dictatorial manner coupled with an unwillingness to brook disobedience or dissent <
given a peremptory dismissal
. imperative implies peremptoriness arising more from the urgency of the situation than from an inherent will to dominate <
an imperative appeal for assistance
. Usage: Some commentators insist that use of masterful should be limited to sense 1 in order to preserve a distinction between it and masterly. The distinction is a modern one, excogitated by a 20th century pundit in disregard of the history of the word. Both words developed in a parallel manner but the earlier sense of masterly, equivalent to masterful 1, dropped out of use. Since masterly had but one sense, the pundit opined that it would be tidy if masterful were likewise limited to one sense and he forthwith condemned use of masterful 2 as an error. Sense 2 of masterful, which is slightly older than the sense of masterly intended to replace it, has continued in reputable use all along; it cannot rationally be called an error.

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • masterful — masterful, domineering, imperious, peremptory, imperative are comparable when they apply to persons or their acts, utterances, and demands and mean governed by, or manifesting, a strong tendency to impose one s will on another. One is masterful… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • masterful — masterful, masterly Although both words have at some time in their history shared all the meanings involved here, they have settled down in more recent usage in such a way that masterful conveys meanings to do with dominance and power whereas… …   Modern English usage

  • masterful — ► ADJECTIVE 1) powerful and able to control others. 2) performed or performing very skilfully. DERIVATIVES masterfully adverb. USAGE Strictly, there is a distinction between masterful and masterly: both mean ‘very skilful’, but only masterful …   English terms dictionary

  • masterful — [mas′tər fəl] adj. 1. fond of acting the part of a master; domineering; imperious 2. having or showing the ability of a master; expert; skillful; masterly: usage objected to by some masterfully adv. masterfulness n. SYN. MASTERFUL implies such… …   English World dictionary

  • Masterful — Mas ter*ful, a. 1. Inclined to play the master; domineering; imperious; arbitrary. Dryden. [1913 Webster] 2. Having the skill or power of a master; indicating or expressing power or mastery. [1913 Webster] His masterful, pale face. Mrs. Browning …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • masterful — index competent, deft, dictatorial, expert, indomitable, potent, practiced, proficient, tyrannous …   Law dictionary

  • masterful — (adj.) c.1300, fond of being a master, from MASTER (Cf. master) (n.) + FUL (Cf. ful). Sense evolved through having capabilities to command (c.1400) to characterized by a master s skill (1610s). Related: Masterfully …   Etymology dictionary

  • masterful — [adj] expert, skilled adept, adroit, clever, consummate, crack, crackerjack*, deft, dexterous, excellent, exquisite, fine, finished, first rate, master, masterly, preeminent, proficient, skillful, superior, superlative, supreme, transcendent;… …   New thesaurus

  • masterful — adjective 1) a masterful man Syn: commanding, powerful, imposing, magisterial, lordly, authoritative; dominating, domineering, overbearing, overweening, imperious Ant: weak 2) t …   Thesaurus of popular words

  • masterful — masterfully, adv. masterfulness, n. /mas teuhr feuhl, mah steuhr /, adj. 1. dominating; self willed; imperious. 2. having or showing the qualities of a master; authoritative; powerful. 3. showing mastery or skill; masterly: a masterful… …   Universalium

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