Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a master or teacher; authoritative: a magisterial account of the history of the English language.
  • adj. Sedately dignified in appearance or manner: "She would appear on the porch and reign over the street in magisterial beauty” ( Harper Lee).
  • adj. Dogmatic; overbearing: expounded on official protocol in magisterial tones.
  • adj. Of or relating to a magistrate or a magistrate's official functions.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Befitting the status or skill of a magister or master; authoritative, masterly.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to a master or magistrate, or one in authority.
  • adj. Pertaining to, produced by, or of the nature of, magistery.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a master or magistrate, or one in authority; having the manner of a magister; official; commanding; authoritative. Hence: Overbearing; dictatorial; dogmatic.
  • adj. Pertaining to, produced by, or of the nature of, magistery. See Magistery, 2.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of or pertaining to a master; such as befits a master; authoritative; hence, lofty; arrogant; imperious; domineering.
  • Of or belonging to a magistrate or his office; of the rank of a magistrate.
  • In chem., pertaining to magistery.
  • Synonyms Authoritative, Magisterial, Dogmatic, Arrogant, Domineering, Imperious, Dictatorial, Peremptory, official, grand, haughty, lordly, oracular. Authoritative is rarely used in a bad sense. Magisterial, in the sense of having the manner of a master or magistrate, generally indicates the overdoing of that manner: as, magisterial pomp and gravity. Dogmatic reaches somewhat more deeply into the character; the dogmatic man insists strenuously upon the correctness of his own opinions, and, being unable to see how others can fail to believe with him, dictatorially presses upon them his opinions as true without argument, while he tends also to blame and overbear those who venture to express dissent. (See confident.) Arrogant implies the assumption of more than due authority from an overestimate of one's importance. (See arrogance.) Domineering, imperious, and dictatorial apply to the assertion of one's own will over those of others in the attempt to rule. Domineering suggests unfitness or lack of authority to rule, with an insulting, hectoring, or bullying manner. Imperious contains most of the real power of the will, suggesting a lofty or lordly determination to be obeyed. Dictatorial implies, on the one hand, a disposition to rule, and, on the other, a sharp insistence upon having one's orders accepted or carried out. Peremptory shuts off discussion: a peremptory command or denial is one that must be obeyed or accepted to the letter and without debate; it is positive, absolute, and often immediate.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. of or relating to a magistrate
  • adj. used of a person's appearance or behavior; befitting an eminent person
  • adj. offensively self-assured or given to exercising usually unwarranted power

Etymologies

Late Latin magisteriālis, from magisterius, from Latin magister, master, teacher; see meg- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin magisterialis, from Latin magisterium. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The word magisterial gets kicked around a lot with reference to biographies of larger-than-life figures, but this time it goes double: Picasso has no rivals as the emblematic artist of the last century, and Richardson, now up to his third volume chronicling the painter's achievement, is well on his way toward giving his subject the biography he deserves. 14.

    Wizards, Warmongers and the West Coast

  • Gals just don't figure, but the misogyny, kooky and magisterial, is all part of the fun.

    Gender Bending

  • Though I was sometimes described as magisterial, she was never so described.

    Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, March 13, 1976. Interview A-0321-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)

  • Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) is best known as the magisterial interpreter of Japan to the English-speaking world, a role he played after moving there in 1890, marrying a Japanese woman and then publishing a series of books in the West, such as the story collections "In Ghostly Japan" (1899) and "Kwaidan" (1904).

    A Traveler's Way With Words

  • At the far end is what might be called the magisterial approach: here a select group of academic administrators specifies which interpretations of the core doctrines and codes are to be propagated throughout the system, and then requires that everyone signs on to those specific interpretations.

    Mere Orthodoxy

  • Maureen Kincaid Speller likes my story. (unless "magisterial" just means pompous)

    Reviews

  • This must be what CannedWest Ian MacDonald meant yesterday when he referred to Harper as "magisterial" and described how he "has assumed the mantle as well as the office."

    Harper : My tar sands trumps your planet

  • Corti also highly recommends Fresno's "magisterial" Barbera, a usually expensive Piedmontese wine that sells for only $13 a bottle.

    Domestic Reserves

  • Secondly there are no "Catholic theological authorities", as if theologians have some kind of magisterial function.

    USA Today lies about Catholic stance on abortion

  • Martin Marty said of the work that it is "a series for which they must have coined words like 'magisterial'."

    The Chicago Blog: May 2006 Archives

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