This word for master derives from the Old English hláford or literally bread (loaf)-ward. Originally, it is a reference to the head of a household; servants in the house would be entitled to be fed by the master. The general sense of master, as opposed to the specific sense of a provider of bread, is well established by c. 950, when the term appears in the Lindisfarne Gospels, Matthew 24:46:
Eadith the thethn thone miththy cymes hlaferd his on-fand sua doende.
(Blessed is that servant, whom his master when he comes will find so doing.)
(Source: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition)
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