Definitions

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

  • n. An outstanding work of art or craft.
  • n. The greatest work, as of an artist. Also called masterwork.
  • n. Something superlative of its kind: a masterpiece of political ingenuity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A piece of work that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career.
  • n. A work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship.
  • n. A work created in order to qualify as a master craftsman and member of a guild.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Anything done or made with extraordinary skill; a capital performance; a chef-d'œuvre; a supreme achievement.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A work or performance of a master; a piece of work of surpassing excellence; any performance or production superior to others of its kind, whether by the same person or by others.
  • n. Chief excellence or talent.

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

  • n. an outstanding achievement
  • n. the most outstanding work of a creative artist or craftsman

Etymologies

Probably translation of Dutch meesterstuk or German Meisterstück : Dutch meester and German Meister, master + Dutch stuk and German Stück, piece of work.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
master +‎ piece, a calque of Dutch meesterstuk (Wiktionary)

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