master


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Jill of all trades(, master of none)

A woman who is skilled in or adept at a wide variety of tasks or abilities (i.e., the female equivalent of "Jack of all trades"). If used with "master of none," it implies that while competent in a variety of things, she is not highly skilled in a particular one. I've had all sorts of different jobs through the years, so I consider myself quite a Jill of all trades! Mary just sort of floated between different interests after she left high school—a Jill of all trades, but master of none.
See also: all, jill, master, of

a Jill of all trades is a master of none

A woman who is somewhat skilled in or adept at a wide variety of tasks or abilities will not have the time or dedication to become truly masterful in any one thing. The female equivalent of the proverb "a Jack of all trades is a master of none." Mary just sort of floated between different interests after she left high school, but never really developed anything career-worthy. A Jill of all trades is a master of none, as they say.
See also: all, jill, master, none, of, trade

Master of the Universe

1. Literally, the supreme being; God. One must always keep in mind the designs and desires of the Master of the Universe if one wishes to enter into heaven in the afterlife.
2. By extension, an extremely powerful, successful, or wealthy person, especially someone working on Wall Street in the US financial sector. John liked to think of himself as a self-styled Master of the Universe after earning his first million playing the stock market.
See also: master, of, universe

jack of all trades, master of none

A person who is able to do many things but does not have a high amount of skill in any one area. A: "My brother can play several instruments, but none very well." B: "You know what they say—jack of all trades, master of none."
See also: all, jack, master, none, of

serve two masters

To simultaneously tend to or support or devote oneself to two different—often conflicting—responsibilities, pursuits, ideas, or people. It comes from the Biblical phrase, "No man can serve two masters." You need to decide if you are married to your wife or to your work because you simply cannot serve two masters.
See also: master, serve, two

be (one's) own master

To not be subject to or controlled by others, especially at work or at home. I have to be my own master, so I couldn't work in a big company like you and have to answer to a boss.
See also: master, own

(one's) lord and master

Someone who has total power over one. (Used to humorously exaggerated effect, usually in reference to one's spouse.) I'd like to meet you for a drink, but I need to go into town to pick a few things up for my lord and master.
See also: and, lord, master

Fire is a good servant but a bad master.

Prov. You must be careful to use fire wisely and under control so that it will not hurt you. Don't play with the candle flames, children. Fire is a good servant but a bad master. At camp, we learned how to build and extinguish fires safely, since fire is a good servant but a bad master.
See also: bad, but, fire, good, master

jack of all trades is a master of none

Prov. If you are able to do a lot of things fairly well, you will not have time to learn to do one thing extremely well. Jill: I envy Bob; he can do so many things. He writes novels, paints pictures, makes sculptures, and even plays the dulcimer. Jane: It's true he does a lot of things, but he probably doesn't do them all terribly well. A jack of all trades is a master of none, you know.
See also: all, jack, master, none, of, trade

No man can serve two masters.

Prov. You cannot work for two different people, organizations, or purposes in good faith, because you will end up favoring one over the other. (Biblical.) Al tried going to school and working, both full-time, but soon discovered that he could not serve two masters.
See also: can, man, master, serve, two

*past master (at something)

Fig. someone proven extremely good or skillful at an activity. (*Typically: be ~; become ~.) Mary is a past master at cooking omelets. Pam is a past master at the art of complaining.
See also: master, past

past master

A person who is thoroughly experienced or exceptionally skilled in some activity or craft. For example, We're lucky to get Ella, because she's a past master at fundraising. This expression probably alludes to the original literal meaning, that is, one who formerly held the post of master in a lodge or other organization. Although past mistress was used for an exceptionally skilled woman in the mid-1800s, it is heard less often today, master serving for both sexes. [Mid-1800s]
See also: master, past

serve two masters

FORMAL
If a person or organization tries to serve two masters, they try to be loyal to two opposing principles, beliefs or organizations. An organization such as the BBC can either make a profit or provide an excellent public service. It cannot, however, be asked to serve two masters. Note: This expression is used in the Bible. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says: `No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.' (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13)
See also: master, serve, two

serve two masters

take orders from two superiors or follow two conflicting or opposing principles or policies at the same time.
This phrase alludes to the warning given in the Bible against trying to serve both God and Mammon (Matthew 6:24).
See also: master, serve, two

be your own ˈmaster/ˈmistress

be free to make your own decisions rather than being told what to do by somebody else: There’s no point trying to tell him what to do. He’s his own master, as you know.
See also: master, own

a ˌpast ˈmaster (in/of/at something)

a person who is very good at doing something: He’s a past master at making other people feel guilty.
See also: master, past

serve two ˈmasters

(usually used in negative sentences) support two opposing parties, principles, etc. at the same time: Government ministers are not allowed to work for private companies as nobody can serve two masters at once.This expression comes from the Bible.
See also: master, serve, two
References in classic literature ?
Keep a negro under the care of a master, and he does well enough, and is respectable; but set them free, and they get lazy, and won't work, and take to drinking, and go all down to be mean, worthless fellows, I've seen it tried, hundreds of times.
But, then, consider," said Miss Ophelia, "when you set him up for sale, the chances of his getting a bad master.
If the lineal descendants of Ham are alone to be scriptur- ally enslaved, it is certain that slavery at the south must soon become unscriptural; for thousands are ushered into the world, annually, who, like myself, owe their existence to white fathers, and those fa- thers most frequently their own masters.
Nay, but,'' said Isaac, ``thy master has won goodly steeds and rich armours with the strength of his lance, and of his right hand but 'tis a good youth the Jew will take these in present payment, and render him back the surplus.
My master has disposed of them already,'' said Gurth.
Sancho repeated it three times, and as he did, uttered three thousand more absurdities; then he told them more about his master but he never said a word about the blanketing that had befallen himself in that inn, into which he refused to enter.
To which Sancho made answer, "If fortune, sirs, should bring things about in such a way that my master should have a mind, instead of being an emperor, to be an archbishop, I should like to know what archbishops-errant commonly give their squires?
while, we have been thinking of other matters, Master Cheever's watchful eye has caught two boys at play.
no," replied Master Jacques, still with his sad smile; "we have not that consolation.
One day it came to Philip's turn to translate, and the master sat there glaring at him and furiously biting his thumb.
And here, in this inferno of luggage, was White Fang deserted by the master.
I am obliged to particularize Rembrandt, because he is the only Old Master disengaged at present.
However, as persons who suspect they have given others cause of offence, are apt to conclude they are offended; so Sophia imputed an action of Master Blifil to his anger, which the superior sagacity of Thwackum and Square discerned to have arisen from a much better principle.
It is pleasing to see the easy, friendly footing which the pupils are on with their master, perfectly respectful, yet with no reserve and nothing forced in their intercourse.
Though he was scarcely eleven years of age, Master George wore straps and the most beautiful little boots like a man.