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or mask

[mask, mahsk] /mæsk, mɑsk/
a form of aristocratic entertainment in England in the 16th and 17th centuries, originally consisting of pantomime and dancing but later including dialogue and song, presented in elaborate productions given by amateur and professional actors.
a dramatic composition for such entertainment.
a masquerade; masked ball; revel.
mask (def 14).
Origin of masque
From Middle French, dating back to 1505-15; See origin at mask
Can be confused
mask, masque, mosque. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for masque
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For himself, he has played and played and played, at the 'masque,' till even I bade him stop.

    The Genius

    Margaret Horton Potter
  • "There is going to be a night masque, and a mock combat at the Louvre," the man said.

  • Somehow he had not seen the real story, but some game or masque.

  • It is a masque of the gods, and not a ballad like the Winning of Thor's Hammer.

    Epic and Romance

    W. P. Ker
  • We have given a few in the case of the masque and the 'Midsummer Night's Dream.'

  • Nor did the greatest poets disdain to write words for the masque.

    The History of London Walter Besant
  • Every great man's house had a hall which was used for the masque.

    The History of London Walter Besant
  • Let us show what a masque was like by describing one of Ben Jonson's.

    The History of London Walter Besant
British Dictionary definitions for masque


a dramatic entertainment of the 16th to 17th centuries in England, consisting of pantomime, dancing, dialogue, and song, often performed at court
the words and music written for a masque
short for masquerade
Word Origin
C16: variant of mask
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for masque

"masquerade, masked ball," 1510s, from Middle French masque; see mask (n.), with which it was originally identical. It developed a special sense of "amateur theatrical performance" (1560s) in Elizabethan times, when such entertainments (originally performed in masks) were popular among the nobility.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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