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mass

[mas]
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noun
  1. a body of coherent matter, usually of indefinite shape and often of considerable size: a mass of dough.
  2. a collection of incoherent particles, parts, or objects regarded as forming one body: a mass of sand.
  3. aggregate; whole (usually preceded by in the): People, in the mass, mean well.
  4. a considerable assemblage, number, or quantity: a mass of errors; a mass of troops.
  5. bulk, size, expanse, or massiveness: towers of great mass and strength.
  6. Fine Arts.
    1. Painting.an expanse of color or tone that defines form or shape in general outline rather than in detail.
    2. a shape or three-dimensional volume that has or gives the illusion of having weight, density, and bulk.
  7. the main body, bulk, or greater part of anything: the great mass of American films.
  8. Physics. the quantity of matter as determined from its weight or from Newton's second law of motion. Abbreviation: mCompare weight(def 2), relativistic mass, rest mass.
  9. Pharmacology. a preparation of thick, pasty consistency, from which pills are made.
  10. the masses, the ordinary or common people as a whole; the working classes or the lower social classes.
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adjective
  1. pertaining to, involving, or affecting a large number of people: mass unemployment; mass migrations; mass murder.
  2. participated in or performed by a large number of people, especially together in a group: mass demonstrations; mass suicide.
  3. pertaining to, involving, or characteristic of the mass of the people: the mass mind; a movie designed to appeal to a mass audience.
  4. reaching or designed to reach a large number of people: television, newspapers, and other means of mass communication.
  5. done on a large scale or in large quantities: mass destruction.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to come together in or form a mass or masses: The clouds are massing in the west.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to gather into or dispose in a mass or masses; assemble: The houses are massed in blocks.
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Origin of mass

1350–1400; Middle English masse < Latin massa mass < Greek mâza barley cake, akin to mássein to knead
Related formsmass·ed·ly [mas-id-lee, mast-lee] /ˈmæs ɪd li, ˈmæst li/, adverbun·massed, adjective
Can be confusedmassed mast

Synonym study

5. See size1.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for the masses

mass

noun
  1. a large coherent body of matter without a definite shape
  2. a collection of the component parts of something
  3. a large amount or number, such as a great body of people
  4. the main part or majoritythe mass of the people voted against the government's policy
  5. in the mass in the main; collectively
  6. the size of a body; bulk
  7. physics a physical quantity expressing the amount of matter in a body. It is a measure of a body's resistance to changes in velocity (inertial mass) and also of the force experienced in a gravitational field (gravitational mass): according to the theory of relativity, inertial and gravitational masses are equalSee also inertial mass, gravitational mass
  8. (in painting, drawing, etc) an area of unified colour, shade, or intensity, usually denoting a solid form or plane
  9. pharmacol a pastelike composition of drugs from which pills are made
  10. mining an irregular deposit of ore not occurring in veins
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adjective
  1. done or occurring on a large scalemass hysteria; mass radiography
  2. consisting of a mass or large number, esp of peoplea mass meeting
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verb
  1. to form (people or things) or (of people or things) to join together into a massthe crowd massed outside the embassy
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See also masses, mass in
Derived Formsmassed, adjectivemassedly (ˈmæsɪdlɪ, ˈmæstlɪ), adverb

Word Origin

C14: from Old French masse, from Latin massa that which forms a lump, from Greek maza barley cake; perhaps related to Greek massein to knead

Mass

noun
  1. (in the Roman Catholic Church and certain Protestant Churches) the celebration of the EucharistSee also High Mass, Low Mass
  2. a musical setting of those parts of the Eucharistic service sung by choir or congregation
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Word Origin

Old English mæsse, from Church Latin missa, ultimately from Latin mittere to send away; perhaps derived from the concluding dismissal in the Roman Mass, Ite, missa est, Go, it is the dismissal
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

Word Origin and History for the masses

mass

v.

"to gather in a mass" (intransitive), 1560s, from mass (n.1) or from French masser. Transitive sense by c.1600. Related: Massed; massing.

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mass

n.1

"lump, quantity, size," late 14c., from Old French masse "lump, heap, pile; crowd, large amount; ingot, bar" (11c.), and directly from Latin massa "kneaded dough, lump, that which adheres together like dough," probably from Greek maza "barley cake, lump, mass, ball," related to massein "to knead," from PIE root *mag- "to knead" (cf. Lithuanian minkyti "to knead," see macerate). Sense extended in English 1580s to "a large quantity, amount, or number." Strict sense in physics is from 1704.

As an adjective from 1733, first attested in mass meeting in American English. mass culture is from 1916 in sociology (earlier in biology); mass hysteria is from 1914; mass media is from 1923; mass movement is from 1897; mass production is from 1920; mass grave is from 1918; mass murder from 1880.

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mass

n.2

"Eucharistic service," Old English mæsse, from Vulgar Latin *messa "eucharistic service," literally "dismissal," from Late Latin missa "dismissal," fem. past participle of mittere "to let go, send" (see mission); probably so called from the concluding words of the service, Ite, missa est, "Go, (the prayer) has been sent," or "Go, it is the dismissal."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

the masses in Medicine

mass

(măs)
n.
  1. A unified body of matter with no specific shape.
  2. A grouping of individual parts or elements that compose a unified body of unspecified size or quantity.
  3. The physical volume or bulk of a solid body.
  4. The measure of the quantity of matter that a body or an object contains. The mass of the body is not dependent on gravity and therefore is different from but proportional to its weight.
  5. A thick, pasty pharmacological mixture containing drugs from which pills are formed.
  6. One of the seven fundamental SI units, the kilogram.
  7. massa

the masses in Science

mass

[măs]
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

the masses in Culture

Mass

The common name in the Roman Catholic Church, and among some members of the Anglican Communion, for the sacrament of Communion.

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Note

In the Middle Ages in England, mass meant a religious feast day in honor of a specific person; thus, “Christ's Mass,” or Christmas, is the feast day of Christ; and Michaelmas is the feast day of the angel Michael.

Mass

In music, a musical setting for the texts used in the Christian Church at the celebration of the Mass, or sacrament of Communion. Most Masses have been written for use in the Roman Catholic Church.

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Note

Many composers have written Masses; among them are Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Josef Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert, Leonard Bernstein, and Duke Ellington.

mass

In physics, the property of matter that measures its resistance to acceleration. Roughly, the mass of an object is a measure of the number of atoms in it. The basic unit of measurement for mass is the kilogram. (See Newton's laws of motion; compare weight.)

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with the masses

the masses

The body of common people, or people of low socioeconomic status, as in TV sitcoms are designed to appeal to the masses. This idiom is nearly always used in a snobbish context that puts down the taste, intelligence, or some other quality of the majority of people. W.S. Gilbert satirized this view in the peers' march in Iolanthe (1882), in which the lower-middle class and the masses are ordered to bow down before the peers. Prime Minister William Gladstone took a different view (Speech, 1886): “All the world over, I will back the masses against the [upper] classes.” [First half of 1800s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.