Monday, May 29, 2006
O.E. mægester "one having control or authority," from L. magister "chief, head, director, teacher" (cf. O.Fr. maistre, Fr. maître, It. maestro, Ger. Meister), infl. in M.E. by O.Fr. maistre, from L. magister, contrastive adj. from magis (adv.) "more," itself a comp. of magnus "great."
In academic senses (from M.L. magister) it is attested from 1380s, originally a degree conveying authority to teach in the universities. The verb is attested from c.1225.
I love etymology. :-)