[mask, mahsk]


verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to put on a mask; disguise oneself.

Origin of mask

1525–35; < Middle French masque, perhaps directly < Italian maschera mask, disguise < pre-Latin *maskara, an extended form of *mask-, probably with orig. sense “black” (blackening the face being a simple form of disguise); another development of the same base is early Medieval Latin masca witch, ghost (also, mask); see mascot
Related formsmask·like, adjective
Can be confusedmask masque mosque

Synonyms for mask


or mask

[mask, mahsk]


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.

Origin of masque

From Middle French, dating back to 1505–15; see origin at mask
Can be confusedmask masque mosque Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mask

Contemporary Examples of mask

Historical Examples of mask

  • "There's a fox's mask," said the Colonel at the bottom of the table, pointing a triangular bit out.

    The Magnetic North

    Elizabeth Robins (C. E. Raimond)

  • He had gained a little time by seeming to fall in with Clancy's desires, but now the mask was dropped.

  • The host, with a sudden gesture, tore off his mask and the Burglar accelerated his pace.

  • The Mikado tilted his cigar up to a level with the slant eyes of his mask, and laughed.

  • He shrugged and turned away, and Poppy, looking round for the others, caught Clem Portal's face with the mask off for one moment.


    Cynthia Stockley

British Dictionary definitions for mask



any covering for the whole or a part of the face worn for amusement, protection, disguise, etc
a fact, action, etc, that conceals somethinghis talk was a mask for his ignorance
another name for masquerade
a likeness of a face or head, either sculpted or moulded, such as a death mask
an image of a face worn by an actor, esp in ancient Greek and Roman drama, in order to symbolize the character being portrayed
a variant spelling of masque
surgery a sterile gauze covering for the nose and mouth worn esp during operations to minimize the spread of germs
sport a protective covering for the face worn for fencing, ice hockey, etc
a carving in the form of a face or head, used as an ornament
a natural land feature or artificial object which conceals troops, etc, from view
a device placed over the nose and mouth to facilitate or prevent inhalation of a gas
photog a shield of paper, paint, etc, placed over an area of unexposed photographic surface to stop light falling on it
electronics a thin sheet of material from which a pattern has been cut, placed over a semiconductor chip so that an integrated circuit can be formed on the exposed areas
computing a bit pattern which, by convolution with a second pattern in a logical operation, can be used to isolate a specific subset of the second pattern for examination
entomol a large prehensile mouthpart (labium) of the dragonfly larva
the face or head of an animal, such as a fox, or the dark coloration of the face of some animals, such as Siamese cats and certain dogs
another word for face pack
rare a person wearing a mask


to cover with or put on a mask
(tr) to conceal; disguiseto mask an odour
(tr) photog to shield a particular area of (an unexposed photographic surface) in order to prevent or reduce the action of light there
(tr) to shield a particular area of (a surface to be painted) with masking tape
(tr) to cover (cooked food, esp meat) with a savoury sauce or glaze
a Scottish variant of mash (def. 8)
Derived Formsmasklike, adjective

Word Origin for mask

C16: from Italian maschera, ultimately from Arabic maskharah clown, from sakhira mockery




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 for masque

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

Word Origin and History for mask

1530s, from Middle French masque "covering to hide or guard the face" (16c.), from Italian maschera, from Medieval Latin masca "mask, specter, nightmare," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Arabic maskharah "buffoon, mockery," from sakhira "be mocked, ridiculed." Or via Provençal mascarar, Catalan mascarar, Old French mascurer "to black (the face)," perhaps from a Germanic source akin to English mesh (q.v.). But cf. Occitan mascara "to blacken, darken," derived from mask- "black," which is held to be from a pre-Indo-European language, and Old Occitan masco "witch," surviving in dialects; in Beziers it means "dark cloud before the rain comes." [See Walther von Wartburg, "Französisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch: Eine Darstellung galloromanischen sprachschatzes"]. Figurative use by 1570s.


1560s, "take part in a masquerade;" 1570s, "to disguise;" 1580s, "to wear a mask," from mask (n.). Figurative use by 1580s. Extended sense of "to disguise" is attested from 1847. Related: Masked; masking. Masking tape recorded from 1927; so called because it is used to block out certain surfaces before painting.



"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

Medicine definitions for mask




A covering for the nose and mouth that is used for inhaling oxygen or an anesthetic.
A covering worn over the nose and mouth, as by a surgeon or dentist, to prevent infection.
A facial bandage.
Something, often a trait, that disguises or conceals.
Any of a variety of conditions producing alteration or discoloration of the skin of the face.
An expressionless appearance of the face seen in certain diseases, such as Parkinsonism.


To cover with a protective mask.
To cover in order to conceal, protect, or disguise.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.