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Master vs. Mister

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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The words master and mister are confusing. They are spelled with only one letter’s difference, but they do not reference the same meanings. To make things even more complicated, master has more than one meaning, and one has dropped out of modern usage. Both master and mister are male titles in English. To whom does each word apply? What are the other possible meanings of these terms? To find out, you will have to continue reading this article, in which I explain the differences between these two terms.


Old English mæg(i)ster (later reinforced by Old French maistre ), from Latin magister ; probably related to magis ‘more’. The word mister originated from mid-16th century: weakened form of master1 in unstressed use before a name.

Master as noun:

Master is used as a noun which means a man who has people working for him, especially servants or slaves.

He acceded to his master's wishes.

Master also refers to a skilled practitioner of a particular art or activity.

I'm a master of disguise.

Master is also a title for an underage male. If a person is under 18, master would be used. Once a person turns 18 and enters adulthood, mister would be used.

“Master Pippin, the headmistress complains that you have shirked your studies again to go rollicking on the hillside,” accused the butler.

Master as adjective:

Master is also used as an adjective which means having or showing very great skill or proficiency.

You don't have to be a master chef in order to cook meat properly.

Master as verb:

Master is also used as a verb which means to acquire complete knowledge or skill in (a subject, technique, or art).

I never mastered Latin.

To gain control of or overcome something is also termed as master.

Master vs. Mister

He managed to master his fears.

Mister as noun:

Mister is used as a noun in English language where it is a title for an adult male. Its abbreviation, Mr., is much more widespread than the spelled out word.

“Excuse me, mister, could you spare some change so I can make a phone call?” said the man at the pay phone.

Mister is also is a device, such as a bottle, with a nozzle for spraying a mist of water.

The cat was scratching on the chair, so I sprayed him with the mister.


“I am the master of my fate!” screamed Cecilia.

Sir Commerford is master-of-arms here at the castle.

I am the master printmaker here at the studio.

In prints, Segers was both a master technician and a visionary, besotted with color, fascinated by the textures possible with both the etching needle and other processes like the sugar lift, which he invented. –The New York Times

“Mr. Ambrosio told me to tell you that he mailed the package two days ago,” said Taliesin.

The talented Mr. Schoff will now demonstrate the use of his patented flameproof jumpsuit.

The driver lets him out just south of Nashville, and when the speaker in the song calls him Mister, the gaunt figure at the wheel says there’s no need, that everyone simply calls him Hank. –The Washington Post

Master or mister:

Titles, honorifics, and other designations can be difficult to remember, especially for non-native speakers. Mister is a title for an adult male. Master is a title for a minor male, or someone who is in charge of something. Since master and in charge both contain the letter A, you can use that letter as a reminder of when to use master.

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