Master and Mister

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mohammed sayed

Senior Member
This is Master John.
This is Mister John.
Sorry for not using abbreviations but I want to understand the difference between Master and Mister.
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    I don't think people use "master" much nowadays, Mohammed Sayed. When I was a kid, some of my aunts still used it as an address on the envelopes of birthday cards they would send me "to master Jeff...". That's very old-fashioned, though, and I think you should forget it.

    Other uses of "master" are equally old-fashioned. "Masters" could be the owners of slaves or the employers of servants. "Mister" is ordinary and is the term I'd use in referring to any adult male politely unless he had some other honorific associated with his name: Doctor, Reverend, etc.

    If you see a term like "schoolmaster", that's a little different. As I am not British, I'm not really qualified to comment on its use in such compounds.

    Finally, "master" can be used as an honorific to refer to somebody who has "mastered" a certain field of knowledge or art: "Fencing master", "dancing master", etc.
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    American English
    "Master" is also used before the name of a manual trade to indicate an expert in that field: a master silversmith. Once upon a time, craft guilds had ranks of apprentices (young men learning the trade), journeymen (older men who were no longer apprentices but worked for masters) and masters (men who were not only expert and experienced, but owned their own shops where they employed journeymen and apprentices). Craft guilds had formal procedures for determining who could call himself a "master." That's all gone now, but "master ______" is still used to indicate an expert at a manual craft.


    Senior Member
    The only times I've used master are from working in medical clinics. Master is used on computer files to help indicate that a patient is a minor (15 and under), which has various consequences.

    Generally it is not used though.


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I see 'Master' on envelopes of letters (Christmas cards, etc.) addressed to my younger son. I think I also saw it on my plane e-tickets for my younger son (he was MSTR as opposed to MR for my elder son). I suppose this indicated that he got a child rather than adult fare.

    There are also terms like headmaster, schoolmaster (mentioned by owlman) - and don't forget webmaster.


    Senior Member
    England, English
    In Europe there is a type of degree called a "Master's degree", typically acquired after 4-5 years of study.


    Senior Member
    American English
    In Europe there is a type of degree called a "Master's degree", typically acquired after 4-5 years of study.
    In the US also, but we don't call somebody with a master's degree "Master Jones." And I agree with others that "Master" for a young boy is seldom used nowadays.
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