[mask, mahsk]
See more synonyms for mask on
  1. a covering for all or part of the face, worn to conceal one's identity.
  2. a grotesque or humorous false face worn at a carnival, masquerade, etc.: Halloween masks.
  3. Also called swim mask. a device consisting typically of a transparent glass or plastic panel fitted into a flexible rubber gasket that fits snugly around the eyes, over the cheeks, and usually over the nose: used by skin divers.
  4. anything that disguises or conceals; disguise; pretense: His politeness is a mask for his fundamentally malicious personality.
  5. a likeness of a face, as one molded on the face in plaster.Compare death mask, life mask.
  6. a covering of wire, gauze, etc., to protect the face, as from splinters, dust, or a pitched ball.
  7. gas mask.
  8. any protective covering for the face or head.
  9. any protective covering, as paper, cardboard, plastic, or the like, used for masking an area of something, as of a photograph or window.
  10. the dark shading on the muzzle of certain dogs.
  11. a representation of a face or head, generally grotesque, used as an architectural ornament or as a decorative device in weaponry, furniture, etc.
  12. a person wearing a mask; masker.
  13. masque(defs 1–3).
  14. Also masque. a cosmetic cream, gel, paste, or the like, that is applied to the face and allowed to remain for a short time before being removed and is used for tightening, cleansing, refreshing, or lubricating the skin.
  15. a piece of cloth, silk, or plastic material covering the face of an actor to symbolize the character being represented: used in Greek and Roman drama and in some modern plays.
  16. the face or head, as of a fox.
  17. Electronics. a type of stencil applied to the surface of a semiconductor to permit selective etching or deposition: used in the manufacture of integrated circuits by photolithography.
  18. Fortification. a screen, as of earth or brush, for concealing or protecting a battery or any military operation.
  19. Also called braker. Shipbuilding. a sliding timber construction braced against the stern of a hull being launched to keep it from entering the water too rapidly.
verb (used with object)
  1. to disguise or conceal; hide; dissemble: to mask one's intentions.
  2. to cover or conceal with a mask.
  3. to cover or shield a part of (a design, picture, etc.) in order to prevent reproduction or to protect the surface from the colors used, as in working with an air brush or in painting.
  4. Fortification. to conceal (a battery or any military operation) from the enemy.
  5. to hinder, as an army, from conducting an operation.
verb (used without object)
  1. 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

See more synonyms for on


or mask

[mask, mahsk]
  1. 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.
  2. a dramatic composition for such entertainment.
  3. a masquerade; masked ball; revel.
  4. mask(def 14).

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. 2018

Examples from the Web for mask

Contemporary Examples of mask

Historical Examples of mask

  • Even for Mammon's sake Mr. Raymount was not the man to hide or mask his opinions.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • The black bonnet had been like a mask, hiding Mart's beauty.

  • His usual vacuity of expression was cast off like a mask and alarm twisted his features.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • In "Cymbeline," Shakespeare's mask Posthumus dwells on the same idea.

  • Under her mask of languor, Carlotta's heart was beating wildly.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

British Dictionary definitions for mask


  1. any covering for the whole or a part of the face worn for amusement, protection, disguise, etc
  2. a fact, action, etc, that conceals somethinghis talk was a mask for his ignorance
  3. another name for masquerade
  4. a likeness of a face or head, either sculpted or moulded, such as a death mask
  5. an image of a face worn by an actor, esp in ancient Greek and Roman drama, in order to symbolize the character being portrayed
  6. a variant spelling of masque
  7. surgery a sterile gauze covering for the nose and mouth worn esp during operations to minimize the spread of germs
  8. sport a protective covering for the face worn for fencing, ice hockey, etc
  9. a carving in the form of a face or head, used as an ornament
  10. a natural land feature or artificial object which conceals troops, etc, from view
  11. a device placed over the nose and mouth to facilitate or prevent inhalation of a gas
  12. photog a shield of paper, paint, etc, placed over an area of unexposed photographic surface to stop light falling on it
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. entomol a large prehensile mouthpart (labium) of the dragonfly larva
  16. 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
  17. another word for face pack
  18. rare a person wearing a mask
  1. to cover with or put on a mask
  2. (tr) to conceal; disguiseto mask an odour
  3. (tr) photog to shield a particular area of (an unexposed photographic surface) in order to prevent or reduce the action of light there
  4. (tr) to shield a particular area of (a surface to be painted) with masking tape
  5. (tr) to cover (cooked food, esp meat) with a savoury sauce or glaze
  6. 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



  1. a dramatic entertainment of the 16th to 17th centuries in England, consisting of pantomime, dancing, dialogue, and song, often performed at court
  2. the words and music written for a masque
  3. 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

mask in Medicine


  1. A covering for the nose and mouth that is used for inhaling oxygen or an anesthetic.
  2. A covering worn over the nose and mouth, as by a surgeon or dentist, to prevent infection.
  3. A facial bandage.
  4. Something, often a trait, that disguises or conceals.
  5. Any of a variety of conditions producing alteration or discoloration of the skin of the face.
  6. An expressionless appearance of the face seen in certain diseases, such as Parkinsonism.
  1. To cover with a protective mask.
  2. 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.