past master

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See also: pastmaster and past-master


Alternative forms[edit]


past master (plural past masters)

  1. (freemasonry) Someone who has previously been a master at a given lodge.
  2. One who has an extremely high level of ability or knowledge within an area of achievement or expertise.
    • 1900, Jack London, "The Son of the Wolf":
      It required a deft hand and deep knowledge of the barbaric mind effectually to handle such diverse weapons; but he was a past-master in the art.
    • 1907, Fergus Hume, The Green Mummy, ch. 27:
      Hervey responded with such volubility that anyone could see he was a pastmaster in Castilian swearing.
    • 1914, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Son of Tarzan, ch. 17:
      Morison was a past master in the art of insidious boasting.
    • 2007 May 21, Richard Corliss and Mary Corliss, "Cannes Journal: Mighty Hearts and Dark Deeds," Time:
      Winterbottom is a past master at lending the traditional story-telling format to real stories of the modern world at war.