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[mas-ter-lee, mah-ster-] /ˈmæs tər li, ˈmɑ stər-/
like or befitting a master, as in skill or art; worthy of a master; very skillful:
a masterly presentation of the budget.
in a masterly manner.
Origin of masterly
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English maisterly. See master, -ly
Related forms
masterliness, noun
Can be confused
masterful, masterly (see usage note at masterful)
Usage note Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for masterly
  • What is particularly masterly is the way she has blended in what is obviously true with what is dubious or misleading.
  • But he has done a masterly job of identifying and isolating the discrepant traditions within the faith.
  • He was somewhat restrained in the use of dance but masterly in his handling of the chorus in the crowd scenes.
  • Yet for the big picture as well as plenty of little ones, the result is still masterly.
  • masterly as this narrative is, it is chilly and almost cruel.
  • It did me good even to watch the violinists drawing their bows so masterly-every motion a study.
  • Although the formula was simple, the technique attained was in its way masterly.
  • Yet it is masterly in its way, competent to its purposes and free from obscurity or over-ornamentation.
  • They generally excel in unity, and in some the gradual unfolding of the leading idea is masterly.
  • Beginners can achieve masterly results with simple projects on the first try.
British Dictionary definitions for masterly


of the skill befitting a master: a masterly performance
Derived Forms
masterliness, noun
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 masterly

1530s, "overbearing;" 1660s, "skillful," from master (n.) + -ly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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