\ˈmask \

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 : 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)

3a : a protective covering for the face

b : gas mask

c : a device covering the mouth and nose to facilitate inhalation

d : a comparable device to prevent exhalation of infective material

e : a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries

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)

intransitive verb

1 : to take part in a masquerade

2a : to assume a mask

b : to disguise one's true character or intentions

transitive verb

1 : to provide or conceal with a mask: such as

a : to conceal from view mask a gun battery

b : to make indistinct or imperceptible masks undesirable flavors

c : to cover up masked his real purpose

2 : to cover for protection

3 : to modify the size or shape of (something, such as a photograph) by means of an opaque border

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Other Words from mask


masklike \-​ˌlīk \ adjective

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


Everyone wore costumes and masks to the dance. Doctors wear surgical masks in the operating room.


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

These masks can be found online, or at local hardware stores. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "California Fires: What to Know If You're Visiting California This Week," 21 Nov. 2018 Each mask replicates the tiniest details of a person’s face, down to an eye’s blood vessels and fine skin wrinkles. Dani Deahl, The Verge, "These hyper-realistic masks are being used to train facial recognition tech," 20 Nov. 2018 The air quality is so bad that cities are handing out respirator masks. Christianna Silva, Teen Vogue, "California's Fires Lead to School Closings, Poor Air Quality, and Public Service Shutdowns as Death Toll Climbs," 16 Nov. 2018 Like most masks, the formula is filled with intense moisturizes, like coconut, rosehip, and avocado oils, all of which would usually leave my fine hair lank and greasy. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "The 5 Truly Excellent Beauty Products I'm Loving This Week," 24 Oct. 2018 Facebook will add graphics around the reader’s face, and even face-distorting masks to make the story more compelling to kids on the other end of the call. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Facebook is audaciously launching a video gadget for your home, called Portal. Is that a good idea?," 8 Oct. 2018 Buying sheet masks is as common as getting Kleenex in South Korea. Nuy Cho, Redbook, "12 Korean Beauty Hacks for Perfect Skin," 17 July 2018 Wolves are featured prominently throughout the story: as the initial scapegoat, in the form of a mask the Sloanes both wear, as the focus of Russell’s sympathies, and as an ongoing threat and metaphor. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Netflix’s Hold the Dark throws Jeffrey Wright to the wolves," 28 Sep. 2018 Dietland is a sleek and stylish revenge fantasy for the post-#MeToo age, set in a world where an extremist group called Jennifer begins to don witch masks and target predatory men. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "From Succession to Pose, Sharp Objects to Castle Rock, this summer has featured some terrific TV.," 1 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Insiders have long worried privately about the lifestyle of people who work in the restaurant industry, which has one of the highest rates of illicit drug use and alcoholism and a tradition of masking mental-health struggles. Katy Mclaughlin, WSJ, "A Reckoning With the Dark Side of the Restaurant Industry," 12 Nov. 2018 The show, which spawned a national debate about cultural appropriation, prompted theater critics and black activists to denounce it for masking black suffering. Dan Bilefsky, New York Times, "A Show About Slaves, With White Actors, Will Go On After Protests," 12 July 2018 The essay pointed out the avenues blogs offered for subterfuge, for masking pain, but ultimately Matchar parsed the perusal of these blogs as a pleasure — and not even a very guilty one. Lydia Kiesling, The Cut, "The Evolution of a Mormon Mommy Blogger," 27 June 2018 The film’s marketing has also done an unusually good job of masking what Hereditary is actually about. Emma Stefansky, HWD, "That Horrific Hereditary Scene Is Director Ari Aster’s Favorite," 8 June 2018 Castillo’s acute awareness of how carefully people mask their past traumas makes for deep characterization. Anita Felicelli, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘America Is Not the Heart,’ by Elaine Castillo," 25 May 2018 From nailing a back-camera iPhone selfie to showing the relatable struggle of masking with glasses, Zendaya has proved to be an inspirational beauty icon, red carpet optional. Sue Williamson, Teen Vogue, "Zendaya's Best Red Carpet Hair and Makeup Looks," 22 Apr. 2018 Prosecutors are investigating the individuals on suspicion of fraud and false advertising related to masking emissions in diesel vehicles manufactured by Porsche, reported The Financial Times. Kirsten Korosec, Fortune, "Audi and Porsche Offices Raided as Volkswagen Emissions Scandal Drags On," 18 Apr. 2018 The star is dark due to a coronagraph, technology that allows the telescope to mask the light of the star. Sarah Gray, Fortune, "Watch Incredible, First-Ever Footage of a Planet Being Born," 5 July 2018

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)


1579, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2a

History and Etymology for mask


Middle French masque, from Old Italian maschera

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Learn More about mask

Dictionary Entries near mask






mask crab


Statistics for mask

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mask

The first known use of mask was circa 1533

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More Definitions for mask



English Language Learners Definition of mask

: to hide (something) from sight

: to keep (something) from being known or noticed


\ˈmask \

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 \

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 infective 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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More from Merriam-Webster on mask

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mask

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mask

Spanish Central: Translation of mask

Nglish: Translation of mask for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mask for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about mask

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