\ ˈmask How to pronounce mask (audio) \
plural masks

Definition of mask

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : a cover or partial cover for the face used for disguise
(2) : a person wearing a mask : masker
b(1) : a figure of a head worn on the stage in antiquity to identify the character and project the voice
(2) : a grotesque false face worn at carnivals or in rituals
c : an often grotesque carved head or face used as an ornament (as on a keystone)
d : a sculptured face or a copy of a face made by means of a mold
2a : a protective covering for the face or part of the face The hockey puck struck the goalie's mask. a snorkel mask — see also ski mask
b(1) : a device usually covering the mouth and nose to facilitate delivery of a gas (such as a general anesthetic) — see also oxygen mask
(2) : a comparable device or a covering (as of polypropylene fiber or cotton fabric) to prevent inhalation of dangerous substances or to prevent the inhalation or dispersal of exhaled infectious material (as bacteria or viruses) — see also face mask, gas mask, procedure mask, surgical mask
c or less commonly masque : a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries
3a : something that serves to conceal or disguise : pretense, cloak aware of the masks, facades and defenses people erect to protect themselves— Kenneth Keniston
b : something that conceals from view
c : a translucent or opaque screen to cover part of the sensitive surface in taking or printing a photograph
d : a pattern of opaque material used to shield selected areas of a surface (as of a semiconductor) in deposition or etching (as in producing an integrated circuit) — see also photomask
4a : the head or face of an animal (such as a fox or dog)
b : an area (such as the one around the eyes) of an animal's face that is distinguished by usually darker coloring


masked; masking; masks

Definition of mask (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to provide or conceal (someone or something) with a mask: such as
a : to conceal (something) from view mask a gun battery The entrance was masked by shrubs and flowers.
b : to make (something) indistinct or imperceptible masks undesirable flavors mask the smell with a scented candle [Dr. Joseph] Murray cautioned that people who go gluten-free to ease stomach problems may end up masking the symptoms of underlying conditions such as Crohn's disease, an immune disorder that affects the digestive tract.— Kiera Butler
c : to hide or conceal (something, such as one's motives or feelings) The excuse masked his real purpose. … a practiced yet futile attempt to mask embarrassment or anger with a smile …— David Remnick
2 : to cover (the face or part of the face) with or as if with a mask The low hood masked her eyes. The leader masked his face with a scarf, her mother says, but she recognized the raspy voice of their neighbor …National Geographic
3 : to cover (something) for protection Painters frequently use tape to mask … adjacent surfaces such as walls or trim.— Gwen Bruno
4 : to modify the size or shape of (something, such as a photograph) by means of an opaque border

intransitive verb

1a : to put on a mask : to cover the face with a mask As workplaces reopen, employees must mask and wash hands frequently.— Robert A. Weinstein and Cory Franklin often used with upOn a recent weekend, we masked up and went for a bicycle ride in Tokyo.— Motoko Rich and Noriko Hayashi
b : to disguise one's true character or intentions
2 : to take part in a masquerade

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Other Words from mask


masklike \ ˈmask-​ˌlīk How to pronounce masklike (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for mask

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for mask


disguise, cloak, mask mean to alter the dress or appearance of so as to conceal the identity or true nature. disguise implies a change in appearance or behavior that misleads by presenting a different apparent identity. disguised herself as a peasant cloak suggests a means of hiding a movement or an intention. cloaked their maneuvers in secrecy mask suggests some often obvious means of hiding or disguising something. smiling to mask his discontent

Examples of mask in a Sentence

Noun Everyone wore costumes and masks to the dance. Doctors wear surgical masks in the operating room. Verb The house was masked by trees. They tried to mask their real purpose. She tried using perfume to mask the bad odor.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Plexiglass was quickly put in place and the homeowners association board had to have numerous meetings to mandate mask wearing. Star Tribune, "Ordinary acts of kindness offer welcome COVID-19 relief," 24 Oct. 2020 The board members referenced the event at a public board meeting Wednesday night to emphasize the need for mask wearing and other safety measures as coronavirus rates, hospitalizations and deaths spike locally. Mary Beth Spalding, The Indianapolis Star, "A COVID-19 'super-spreader' event sidelined nurses in St. Joseph County, officials say," 23 Oct. 2020 At the justice center, Daugherty says there are precautions in place, including mask wearing, cleaning and sanitizing procedures. Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer, "Sheriff: 6 more jail deputies test positive for COVID-19, inmate population rising," 23 Oct. 2020 Additionally, any audience member who refused to wear a mask was removed, organizers said. Arkansas Online, "Trump, Biden hold final debate," 23 Oct. 2020 While defying the government by opening up, some schools and yeshivas are following certain health regulations, such as mask wearing and social distancing. Dov Lieber, WSJ, "Israel Confronts Revolt as Ultraorthodox Defy Covid Public-Health Rules," 22 Oct. 2020 As has been the case at most of Trump’s campaign events, there was almost no social distancing and little or no mask wearing. NBC News, "Pandemic accelerates with 18.5 percent jump in new U.S. cases," 21 Oct. 2020 Treemont is reopening social connections, but doing it in a way that is focused on safety, and keeping appropriate protections in place, including mask wearing and social distancing. Houston Chronicle, "Treemont reopens social activities to benefit residents," 15 Oct. 2020 At level 1 there’s in-person school using safety protocols such as mask wearing and three to six-foot social distancing. John Benson, cleveland, "Transitioning to hybrid model, North Olmsted City Schools forfeits playoff football game due to positive COVID-19 test," 14 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As their governor resists mask mandate, Iowans sour on the G.O.P. David E. Sanger, New York Times, "Russia Poses Greater Election Threat Than Iran, Many U.S. Officials Say," 22 Oct. 2020 Airlines initially made exceptions to mask requirements for medical reasons. Scott Mccartney, WSJ, "Airlines Have Rules About Face Masks—That’s Not Always Enough," 21 Oct. 2020 Briggs chooses a classic face mask to mask and chill: the Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask. Tatjana Freund, Marie Claire, "Bishop Briggs Knows the Cure for Puffy Eyes," 20 Oct. 2020 Six Flags’ policy goes further, requiring guests to wear face masks at all times, with signs throughout the park showing them how to properly mask up. Randy Diamond,, "Six Flags Halloween horror event packs park," 20 Oct. 2020 Women and others, engaged in war work activities who wish to meet for sewing, bandage or mask making, may continue to do so under the usual sanitary precautions. San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: Parallels to the 1918 flu pandemic are evident 102 years later," 19 Oct. 2020 In May, the pro wrestling legend tweeted a pic of himself grabbing some beer while sporting an Alabama Crimson Tide mask with two versions of the script A logo. Mark Heim |, al, "Stone Cold Steve Austin reveals 3 college coaches he wants to have beers with, 2 are in the SEC," 19 Oct. 2020 Customers willing to mask up and socially distance will have opportunity to score some uncommon musical treasures. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: Oct. 19-25," 18 Oct. 2020 The influx of protective coverings has left just about every fashion retailer making a shift to mask production. Blake Newby, Allure, "These Face Masks Are the Most Practical Deal of Amazon Prime Day," 14 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mask.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of mask


circa 1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1539, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2

History and Etymology for mask


Middle French masque, from Old Italian maschera

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Time Traveler for mask

Time Traveler

The first known use of mask was circa 1533

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Statistics for mask

Last Updated

26 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Mask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for mask


How to pronounce mask (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mask

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a covering used to hide or disguise your face
: a covering used to protect your face or cover your mouth
: a way of appearing or behaving that is not true or real



English Language Learners Definition of mask (Entry 2 of 2)

: to hide (something) from sight
: to keep (something) from being known or noticed


\ ˈmask How to pronounce mask (audio) \

Kids Definition of mask

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a cover for the face or part of the face used for disguise or protection a Halloween mask a catcher's mask
2 : something that disguises or conceals She visited under a mask of friendship.


masked; masking

Kids Definition of mask (Entry 2 of 2)

: conceal, disguise She found it difficult to mask her anger.


\ ˈmask How to pronounce mask (audio) \

Medical Definition of mask

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a protective covering for the face
2a : any of various devices that cover the mouth and nose and are used to prevent inhalation of dangerous substances, to facilitate delivery of a gas (as oxygen or a general anesthetic), or to prevent the dispersal of exhaled infectious material — see gas mask, oxygen mask
3 : a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries

Medical Definition of mask (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to prevent (an atom or group of atoms) from showing its ordinary reactions to mask hydroxyl in a sugar by converting it into methoxyl
2 : to modify or reduce the effect or activity of (as a process or a reaction)
3 : to make indistinct or imperceptible flavorings used in pharmacy to mask the taste of medications
4 : to raise the audibility threshold of (a sound) by the simultaneous presentation of another sound

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