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[free-mey-suh n, free-mey-] /ˈfriˌmeɪ sən, ˌfriˈmeɪ-/
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.
(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 of Freemason
1350-1400; Middle English fremason. See free, mason
Related forms
[free-muh-son-ik] /ˌfri məˈsɒn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for freemasons


(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


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 freemasons



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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freemasons in Culture

Freemasons definition

A men's fraternal organization with some religious aspects. Freemasons claim descent from the builders of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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