The Freemason Dictionary – A Reference of Masonic Words, Sayings & Phrases

Our guide to some masonic prases and words used by the freemasons.

Freemason Dictionary

Pass Grip

A form of handshake by which one brother can recognise another. (Explained to candidate during ceremony but very difficult to recognise from a normal handshake therefore only really used during he ceremony.)

Secret Word

A word by which one mason would recognise another. (The word is so obtuse that it would not be used in normal conversation as it would not make any sense.)

Rough Aslar

Description of a piece of stone as taken from the quarry. (In Masonic terms, a man when entering Freemasonry And prior to finding Masonic enlightenment.)

Perfect Aslar

Description of a piece of stone which had been square and is true in all its dimensions. (In Masonic terms, a man who has been through the three degrees and is a good and true Freemason.)


Grand, or Great Architect of the Universe. A deity which can be recognised by all faiths. (Mistaken by the anti freemasonry lobby who mistake the spelling and meaning and say Freemasons worship the goat.)

Tracing Board

Lodges have three tracing boards for the three degrees. (They are formalised illustrations of certain aspects of a particular ceremony.)

Masonic Sayings


Non Masonically to give someone the third degree means close questioning of a person who is suspected of some, possibly, heinous crime. This can be just questioning or lead to more violent means.

Masonically, it relates to the third degree is the highest degree or level of ceremony conferred in a Masonic lodge. This relates to the death of Hiram Abiff and the three master masons who were the perpetrators. They tried to extract information from him, which would have been of considerable benefit to themselves.


Non Masonically, the level, or more commonly known as a spirit level, is used by stonemasons to check that the stone is a true horizontal. It is equally level with all the other stones.

Masonically, the level is regarded as teaching equality to all people; therefore, being on the level means just that. As Freemasons, we meet as Brothers therefore we are all on the same level, regardless of our social or economic status outside the lodge. Kings, prime Ministers, and captains of business are no better or more important than builders, factory workers, etc when we meet together in the lodge. While Freemasonry does not detract from a man’s accomplishments or position outside the lodge, neither does it place him above his brethren in the lodge.


Non Masonically, this refers to when a stonemason prepares a block of stone to use in the construction of a building. He has to ensure that it is perfectly square, otherwise the wall will be out of shape and not suitable to support those blocks around it. This means that the surfaces of the six sides of the block must be perfectly straight and at right angles to each other. To do this, the stonemason uses a square.

Masonically, this term ‘on the square’ is used by Freemasons to describe their trust in each other. A man who is on the square is honest and reliable. He is as perfect as he can be and is a strong member of his community. The term is also sometimes used to mean “just between you and me.” When one Mason tells another Mason something in confidence, he may say, “This is on the square.”


Non Masonically comes from Old English and is used to mean an honorific position which a person holds. The person holding the top position in certain organisations, such as Mayors, the Guilds and Judges, are still referred to as “Your Worship” which has its links back to the same language root.

Masonically because Freemasonry has its origins in England, which goes back many of the centuries, it has been retained. This honorific title is that of the principal officer of the local Masonic lodge. He is the Masonic equivalent of the principal officer and is addressed as Worshipful Master.


Non Masonically, this has come to mean to trick or to deceive often for unfair advantage.

Masonically, it is a very old term used to describe a blindfold. Hood means cover, and wink means to close an eye. The hoodwink is used in the first degree, or degree of initiation, when the candidate is led, hoodwinked, into the lodge room. While, physically, it is to prevent him from seeing certain features of the room until after taking his obligation it also means that, if he recants and decides not to take his obligation, then he can be led out of the room and he does not know the identity of those in the room. This goes back to a time of religious persecution when men wanted to discuss subjects with like-minded persons they could trust and not run the risk of being reported. A sure way of losing your head.

Deprivation of the sense of sight removes distractions and induces the candidate to focus his attention of the words he is hearing. It symbolises his search for light, or knowledge. It is his born from darkness into the revelation of light.


Non Masonically, it is something serving as an indication, proof. Signifying or evidencing authority, validity, or identity. It can be a keepsake or souvenir or a non legal substitute for currency. It can also refer to a gesture of reconciliation or resistance. Sometimes it can refer to something symbolic, such as the token woman on the committee.

Masonically is a grip or recognition handshake that is used by Freemasons to identify each other. Each Masonic degree has its own handshake/token which identifies the level of proficiency attained by a member. It can also enable one Mason to silently know another without either calling attention to himself.


Non Masonically this relates to the blocking of the admission of an applicant to an organisation or to ostracise a person from social, professional or commercial participation/activities or political, religious or other beliefs. Maybe even seen as a threat to the organisation.

Masonically,aw. At the start of the balloting, the Worshipful Master will hold up the no draw to indicate that it is empty. Masonic ballot boxes are designed so that no one can see how you vote so brethren then place the ball, which indicates their choice in the relative draw in the ballot box. Once voting is finished, the Worshipful Master then removes the no draw to establish that there are no black balls.


Non Masonically. Principally related to personal attitude in respect of someone’s work. But it can also encompass carelessness, untidiness, slovenly. Down-at-heel, seedy or shabby or shoes worn down at the heel.

Masonically When the initiate enters the lodge room for his first degree ceremony, he wears a slip shod. This relates to the more historic use of the word from which our modern use is derived. More historically, rather than today, it relates to wearing slippers or loose shoes.

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