Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Doesn't it seem interesting that this entry considers the antonym of mistress to be the male counterpart? I think the opposite of someone who is a master would be someone who is submissive. Male and female are not opposites, but rather subsets of a species. —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

Missing definition[edit]

There's an adjectival sense missing here, one that matches the following quote:

    • 1816: Jane Austen, Emma, Volume 1 Chapter 9
      She cast her eye over it, pondered, caught the meaning, read it through again to be quite certain, and quite mistress of the lines, and then passing it to Harriet, sat happily smiling, and saying to herself, while Harriet was puzzling over the paper in all the confusion of hope and dulness, —This comment was unsigned.
Consider the following parallel construction using "quite", from Charles Dickens' w:Martin Chuzzlewit (1843):
  • "And of course we shall be quite friends in future....".
I'm sure you would agree that "friends" is not an adjective. My sense of current grammar would not allow me to say or write either of these sentences, but apparently it was acceptable in the 19th century. DCDuring TALK 03:08, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
It's still current in negative constructions: "We are not quite friends"; "I'm not quite myself today". Equinox 09:47, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Verb discussion[edit]

[Moved here from my talk page.]

I'm wondering about the characterization "intransitive" for the sense you recently added. In the citation, it seems to be used transitively (in "the mistressing of a great house" I would take "a great house" to correspond to a direct object, equivalent to the phrase "to mistress a great house.") Further citations would of course be helpful. Aabull2016 (talk) 17:41, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

Given the definition, I'd say the intransitive marker is appropriate. The "mistressing" of the great house is the mistressing that the great house was doing, not that was being done to it. The limping of a one-legged man. The failings of a useless wanker. Etc. — [ זכריה קהת ] Zack. — 18:40, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
Yes, I pondered this myself. Chambers 1908 has it intransitive ("to play the mistress"). Equinox 02:37, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
Actually, in this case the great house is being mistressed, not doing the mistressing. The structure is similar to "the building of the house," "the command of the ship," and so on. Aabull2016 (talk) 04:32, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
The "of" may just imply something like possession: "running a house involves mistressing" (intransitive), like "committing suicide involves dying"; the mistressing of the house; the dying of the suicidal person. Equinox 04:39, 26 October 2018 (UTC)