‘Master' vs 'Mister': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on December 20, 2022

Should you use ‘master’ or ‘mister’? Are you struggling with the difference between the two? We’ll explain the difference, and you’ll learn how to use both words correctly in a sentence.

Don’t feel like skimming? Here’s the short answer.

  • ‘Master’ means a revered religious leader; an artist, performer, or player of consummate; a male teacher; or a person holding an academic degree higher than a bachelor’s but lower than a doctor’s.
  • ‘Mister’ means sir, husband, or a male who’s a stranger to you.

‘Master’ vs ‘Mister’ – What’s the Difference?

As you just learned, there’s a big difference between some of the definitions of the words. We know that ‘mister’ means a male teacher, and ‘master’ could be a male or female religious leader, artist, performer, or player of consummate. It could also be an academic degree.

‘Master,’ ‘Mister,’ ‘Mistress’

The words ‘master,’ ‘mister,’ and ‘mistress’ all share similar origins. We know what ‘master’ and ‘mister’ mean for the most part. Before we get into detailed definitions, let’s look at what ‘mistress’ means, so you don’t confuse it with the other two.

‘Mistress’ means a woman who has power, authority, or ownership: such as the female head of household. It could also mean a female teacher or tutor, so it’s sort of the opposite of ‘mister.’ ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs.’ might be used in the place of ‘mistress’ in most cases, however.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Master’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘master’ is: “a male teacher,” “a person holding an academic degree higher than a bachelor’s but lower than a doctor’s,” “often capitalized: a revered religious leader,” “a worker or artisan qualified to teach apprentices” “an artist, performer, or player of consummate,” and “a great figure of the past (as in science or art) whose work serves as a model or ideal.”

It also means: “one having authority over another: ruler, governor,” “one that conquers or masters: victor, superior,” “a person licensed to command a merchant ship,” “one having control,” “an owner especially of an animal,” “the employer especially of a servant,” “a person who holds another person in slavery,” and “husband.”

Other definitions include: “the male head of a household,” “Mr.,” “a youth or boy too young to be called mister > used as a title,” “the eldest son of a Scottish viscount or baron,” “a presiding officer in an institution or society (such as a college),” “any of several officers of court-appointed to assist (as by hearing and reporting) a judge,” “a master mechanism) or device,” “an original from which copies can be made,” and “especially: a master recording.”

As an adjective, it means: “being or relating to a master: such as having chief authority: dominant,” “skilled, proficient,” “principal, predominant,” “superlative > often used in combination,” “being a device or mechanism that controls the operation of another mechanism or that establishes a standard (such as a dimension or weight),” “being or relating to a master from which duplicates are made.”

The verb definition is: “to become master of: overcome,” “to become skilled or proficient in the use of,” “to gain a thorough understanding of,” and “to produce a master recording of (something, such as a musical rendition).”

Definition and Meaning of ‘Mister’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘mister’ is: “MR. > used sometimes in writing instead of Mr.,” “SIR > used without a name as a generalized term of the direct address of a man who is a stranger,” and “husband.”

As a noun, it’s defined as: “a device for spraying a mist.”

Now that you know what both words mean let’s take a look at some example sentences for each.

How to Use ‘Master’ in a Sentence

Here are a few examples of how to use ‘master’ in a sentence correctly:

  • She’s the master of the violin. She’s been playing since she was six years old.
  • My trainer is the master of the gym. She’s so toned.
  • Remember Nyles from The Nanny used to call the boy ‘Master Brighton’?
  • No one wants to learn how to master knitting, Grandma.
  • Rochelle can master anything thrown her way. She’s so multi-talented and skilled.
  • I can master email; give me 30 days.

How to Use ‘Mister’ in a Sentence

Now let’s see some examples of how to use ‘mister’ in a sentence.

  • Thousands of kids watched Mister Rogers’ show in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
  • Almost everyone in the stadium had handheld misters to keep them cool in the heat of the night.
  • The principal has a name – Mister Jones.
  • Excuse me, Mister. Can I ask you a question?
  • Hey, Mister, you want to buy a candy bar?
  • Where is Mr. Newton? He’s supposed to be here already.

Final Thoughts on ‘Master’ and ‘Mister’

Now that you know what ‘master’ and ‘mister’ mean, you can use them in your writing without worrying about if you’re using them correctly. Use the above examples as a guide during the writing process.

If you ever feel stuck, you can always come back whenever you need to. Bookmark the page and revisit it anytime. We’ve got a whole library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words you might come across while learning the language.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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