[free-mey-suh n, free-mey-] /ˈfriˌmeɪ sən, ˌfriˈmeɪ-/

a member of a widely distributed secret order (Free and Accepted Masons) having for its object mutual assistance and the promotion of brotherly love among its members.
(lowercase) History/Historical.

(medieval history) a member of a guild of itinerant skilled stonemasons, who had a system of secret signs and passwords with which they recognized each other
a member of the widespread secret order, constituted in London in 1717, of Free and Accepted Masons, pledged to brotherly love, faith, and charity Sometimes shortened to Mason

late 14c., originally a traveling guild of masons with a secret code; in the early 17c. they began accepting honorary members and teaching them the secrets and lore, which by 1717 had developed into the fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons.

The exact origin of the free- is a subject of dispute. Some [e.g. Klein] see a corruption of French frère “brother,” from frèremaçon “brother mason;” others say it was because the masons worked on “free-standing” stones; still others see them as “free” from the control of local guilds or lords [OED].

A men’s fraternal organization with some religious aspects. Freemasons claim descent from the builders of the Temple in Jerusalem.


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