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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for mastery in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


From Old French maistrie.



mastery (usually uncountable, plural masteries)

  1. The position or authority of a master; dominion; command; supremacy; superiority.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sir Walter Raleigh
      If divided by mountains, they will fight for the mastery of the passages of the tops.
    • 1892, James Yoxall, chapter 5, in The Lonely Pyramid:
      The desert storm was riding in its strength; the travellers lay beneath the mastery of the fell simoom. Whirling wreaths and columns of burning wind, rushed around and over them.
  2. Superiority in war or competition; victory; triumph; preeminence.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene. [], London: Printed [by John Wolfe] for VVilliam Ponsonbie, OCLC 960102938, book II, canto XII, stanza 31, pages 370–371:
      They were faire Ladies, till they fondly ſtriu’d / With th’Heliconian maides for mayſtery; / Of whom they ouer-comen, were depriu’d / Of their proud beautie, and th’one moyity / Transform’d to fiſh, for their bold ſurquedry, / But th’vpper halfe their hew retayned ſtill, / And their ſweet skill in wonted melody; / Which euer after they abuſd to ill, / T’allure weake traueillers, whom gotten they did kill.
    • Exodus, xxxii. 18
      The voice of them that shout for mastery.
    • 1 Corinthians, ix. 25.
      Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Ben Jonson
      O, but to have gulled him / Had been a mastery.
  3. (obsolete) Contest for superiority.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Holland to this entry?)
  4. (obsolete) A masterly operation; a feat.
  5. (obsolete) The philosopher's stone.
  6. The act or process of mastering; the state of having mastered; expertise.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Tillotson
      He could attain to a mastery in all languages.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Locke
      The learning and mastery of a tongue, being unpleasant in itself, should not be cumbered with other difficulties.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.