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Freemason

[free-mey-suh n, free-mey-] /ˈfriˌmeɪ sən, ˌfriˈmeɪ-/
noun
1.
a member of a widely distributed secret order (Free and Accepted Masons) having for its object mutual assistance and the promotion of brotherly love among its members.
2.
(lowercase) History/Historical.
  1. one of a class of skilled stoneworkers of the Middle Ages, possessing secret signs and passwords.
  2. a member of a society composed of such workers, which also included honorary members (accepted masons) not connected with the building trades.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English fremason. See free, mason
Related forms
freemasonic
[free-muh-son-ik] /ˌfri məˈsɒn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for free-mason

freemason

/ˈfriːˌmeɪsən/
noun
1.
(medieval history) a member of a guild of itinerant skilled stonemasons, who had a system of secret signs and passwords with which they recognized each other
Derived Forms
freemasonic (ˌfriːməˈsɒnɪk) adjective

Freemason

/ˈfriːˌmeɪsən/
noun
1.
a member of the widespread secret order, constituted in London in 1717, of Free and Accepted Masons, pledged to brotherly love, faith, and charity Sometimes shortened to Mason
Derived Forms
Freemasonic (ˌfriːməˈsɒnɪk) adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for free-mason

Freemason

n.

late 14c., originally a traveling guild of masons with a secret code; in the early 17c. they began accepting honorary members and teaching them the secrets and lore, which by 1717 had developed into the fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons.

The exact origin of the free- is a subject of dispute. Some [e.g. Klein] see a corruption of French frère "brother," from frèremaçon "brother mason;" others say it was because the masons worked on "free-standing" stones; still others see them as "free" from the control of local guilds or lords [OED].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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