Glossary of Masonic Terms


To make to conform or agree, bring into harmony.

Movement forward, i.e., the movement from one degree to the next.


Leather aprons were worn centuries ago by stonemasons to protect their skin and clothing, as well as to carry their tools. Today, lambskin or cloth aprons, often elaborately decorated or embroidered, are worn by members as a symbolic connection to those medieval craftmen from which it is purported that we derive our Masonic tradition.


A building block. A “rough ashlar” is one that has merely been excavated from a quarry. A “perfect ashlar” is one that has been squared and polished, and thus made fit for a builder’s use. Speculative Masons take the ashlar as a symbol for their minds and consciences.

a secret vote by balls and cubes or in writing

brought to light

term used in Masonic degree rituals to describe the moment when a candidate has his hoodwink (blindfold) removed, with implications of a more profound enlightenment. Also see “Enlightenment”.

bourn or bourne

A boundary, as between properties, limit.

builder’s art

The art of  architecture and stonemasonry is relied upon as the source of the allegorical methods and symbolic tools applied in the art of Speculative Freemasonry. The term also alludes to the designs and handiwork of the Grand Architect of the Universe (G.A.O.T.U.).

not recognized by the Grand Lodge of Florida.

Celestial Temple

Also the Celestial Lodge or the “House not made with hands”.  These are names by which Masons typically refer to that transcendent realm which awaits them after death, and/or an archetype of social and fraternal perfection.. However, due to the nonsectarian nature of Masonry, some Masons may interpret it differently, and even as a state of consciousness that is available to us here and now.


To draw a circular line by the compasses; symbolic of the boundary line of Masonic conduct.


Concealed, usually for some secret or illicit purpose. In Freemasonry, illegal, not authorized.


Opening made by a crack or crevice, a hollow between two parts.

Constituent Lodge
a Lodge chartered by, or under dispensation from a Grand Lodge


Strife or struggle.


 A Masonic term which means intruder or one who accidentally enters where he is not wanted. This is not to be confused with the word eavesdropper or one who deliberately tries to overhear and see what is not meant for his eyes and ears.


Another term for Masonry, which implies that there are certain skills to be learned and developed within a system of apprenticeship and mastery.

degrees of masonry
Indications of the level of membership and knowledge of Freemasonry principles. The basic degrees of Masonry are Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason.

a document, bearing the seal of a Lodge and attested to by the Secretary. In most states, it shows that a Mason is leaving one Lodge in order to join another.


definitions of this term are understood to be inadequate, but it refers to the direct and conscious realization of the essential nature of being, which concepts alone cannot attain. In common Western usage the term  is somewhat synonymous with illumination, revelation and epiphany.

When capitalized, as in ‘Enlightenment’ or ‘Age of Enlightenment’ it refers to the period of time (roughly the mid-1600’s to about 1800) when the ideas of rational thought and liberty developed. Modern Freemasonry is often said to be a product of the Enlightenment.


The use of equivocal language, e.g., words capable of two interpretations, cryptic, evasive, ambiguous.

fraternal intercourse
activities that promote fraternalism in constituent Lodges or Masonic Youth Orders

The word “free” was added to “mason” during the Middle Ages. The origin is uncertain, but may be related to stonemasons who worked as advanced stone carvers in “freestone.”

Grand Architect of the Universe (G.A.O.T.U.)

also Great or Supreme Architect etc. This is a term used by Masons to refer to the Supreme Being, which Masonic ritual also refers to as the Creator, Deity, and God. Masons are required to profess a belief in a Supreme Being, but according to Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723 every Mason has the right to maintain his own beliefs and religion.  Therefore every great religion of humanity is represented within the fraternity of Masonry.

Grand Lodge
The administrative body in charge of Freemasonry in a specific geographic area. The United States has Grand Lodges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Grand Master
The elected leader of the Grand Lodge.


From the Latin “guttur”, the throat.

in good standing
when dues are current

lay or inlay
The manner or position in which something is situated (lay). To set (a piece of wood, metal, etc.) into a surface to form a design that is usually level with the surface (inlay).


The symbolism of light has many philosophical, psychological and spiritual implications. Every Mason of every degree claims that light is what he seeks, and Masonry promises to deliver it in some measure, though it also instructs its members that further light must be sought beyond the traditional instructions and explanations of its ritual.  In this context, Masonry alludes to the light of insight and understanding. An important Masonic reference to light regards its prominence in the act of creation, as recorded in the first chapter of Genesis.

This refers to both a unit of Masons as well as the room or building in which they meet. There are approximately 13,000 lodges in the United States.


A member of the Masonic fraternity.

masonic clothing
white aprons

masonic intercourse
any communication involving the esoteric or secret portion of the ritual

Masonic Organizations
any group, chapter, order, club, association or organization requiring Masonic affiliation as a prerequisite to membership, except Masonic Lodges

masonic regalia
aprons, jewels, implements and hats appropriate to one’s station or office

Masonic Youth Orders

International Order of the Rainbow for Girls

International Order of Job’s Daughters

International Order of DeMolay


An ancient nonsectarian fraternity with initiatory ritual and symbolism based upon legends about the building of King Solomon’s Temple.

a call issued by the Secretary, by order of the Lodge or Master, or by other competent authority to attend or perform as specified


having willfully told a lie while under lawful oath or affirmation; having broken an oath.


One not initiated into the Fraternity of Craft, a non Mason.

Stated meeting

The monthly or bimonthly lodge meeting to conduct regular business, receive new members, and vote upon the Application for Degrees.


an imperative order issued by the Master, and attested to by the Secretary, or by other competent authority, to appear as specified; a trial summons is one issued for the purpose of answering Masonic charges


Another name for a Masonic building. The word is used in the same sense that Justice Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court a “Temple of Justice.”


As used in Worshipful Master, From the Anglo-Saxon, worthship (worthy); honorable or respectable. The term has no religious or sacred implication.

Worshipful Master (WM)

also called Master of the Lodge, is the chief officer of a lodge.

Youth groups

Masonic organizations for young people that include DeMolay International for boys 12 to 21, Rainbow for Girls for girls 11 to 20, and Job’s Daughters for young women 11 to 20