See more synonyms for mass on
  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. 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.
  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.
verb (used without object)
  1. to come together in or form a mass or masses: The clouds are massing in the west.
verb (used with object)
  1. to gather into or dispose in a mass or masses; assemble: The houses are massed in blocks.

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.


[ma-sey or, esp. British, mas-ee]
noun Billiards.
  1. a stroke made by hitting the cue ball with the cue held almost or quite perpendicular to the table.

Origin of massé

1870–75; < French: literally, hammered, i.e., struck from above, straight down, equivalent to masse sledge hammer (Old French mace; see mace1) + -ee
Also called massé shot.


  1. the celebration of the Eucharist.Compare High Mass, Low Mass.
  2. (sometimes lowercase) a musical setting of certain parts of this service, as the Kyrie eleison, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei.

Origin of Mass

before 900; Middle English masse, Old English mæsse < Vulgar Latin *messa, Late Latin missa, formally feminine of Latin missus, past participle of mittere to send, dismiss; perhaps extracted from a phrase in the service with missa est and a feminine subject Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for masses

proletariat, riffraff, rabble, mob, commonalty, multitude

Examples from the Web for masses

Contemporary Examples of masses

Historical Examples of masses

British Dictionary definitions for masses


pl n
  1. the masses the body of common people
  2. (often foll by of) informal, mainly British great numbers or quantitiesmasses of food


  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
  1. done or occurring on a large scalemass hysteria; mass radiography
  2. consisting of a mass or large number, esp of peoplea mass meeting
  1. to form (people or things) or (of people or things) to join together into a massthe crowd massed outside the embassy
See also masses, mass in
Derived Formsmassed, adjectivemassedly (ˈmæsɪdlɪ, ˈmæstlɪ), adverb

Word Origin for mass

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


  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

Word Origin for Mass

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


mass shot

  1. billiards a stroke made by hitting the cue ball off centre with the cue held nearly vertically, esp so as to make the ball move in a curve around another ball before hitting the object ball

Word Origin for massé

C19: from French, from masser to hit from above with a hammer, from masse sledgehammer, from Old French mace mace 1
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 masses

"people of the lower class," 1836; plural of mass (n.1).



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



"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.



"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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

masses in Medicine


  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 American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

masses in Science


  1. A measure of the amount of matter contained in or constituting a physical body. In classical mechanics, the mass of an object is related to the force required to accelerate it and hence is related to its inertia, and is essential to Newton's laws of motion. Objects that have mass interact with each other through the force of gravity. In Special Relativity, the observed mass of an object is dependent on its velocity with respect to the observer, with higher velocity entailing higher observed mass. Mass is measured in many different units; in most scientific applications, the SI unit of kilogram is used. See Note at weight. See also rest energy General Relativity.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

masses in Culture


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


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.


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.


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


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.)

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.