\ 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 (such 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 mask (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 Many have eliminated medical exemptions in their mask requirements. Michael Laris, Anchorage Daily News, "Sneezed on, cussed at, ignored: Airline workers battle mask resistance with scant government backup," 2 Jan. 2021 In response, Michael Carvajal, Bureau of Prisons director, in September outlined the agency’s testing regime, mask requirements and quarantine procedures. Washington Post, "Sick, elderly prisoners are at risk for covid-19. A new D.C. law makes it easier for them to seek early release.," 30 Dec. 2020 And when concerts restart, fans can expect to see mitigation measures like vaccine tracking, mask requirements and social distancing. USA Today, "2021 has to be better for Hollywood, because it can’t get any worse," 30 Dec. 2020 Krause said board members also have received dozens of emails from residents who favor the mask requirements. Leslie Postal,, "Seminole County parents urge an end to school face masks," 30 Dec. 2020 Hosts of the in-person NYE events highlighted here stress that social distancing, limited capacity, mask requirements and other COVID-19 safety precautions will be in place. Linda Kessler, Dallas News, "Count down to 2021 at these New Year’s Eve celebrations in and around Dallas," 28 Dec. 2020 Others said Armstrong has posted on sites that include lists of Rapid City businesses to avoid because of mask requirements. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Vaccine freezer, Christmas cheer, Iditarod trail switch: News from around our 50 states," 24 Dec. 2020 Businesses are required to enforce mask requirements. Vivian Jones, Washington Examiner, "Tennessee’s largest county implements safer-at-home order," 22 Dec. 2020 Now masks opponents are asking that Kastrenakes remove himself from hearing their lawsuit challenging the county’s mask requirements. Marc Freeman,, "This judge said mask laws are OK. Then he went to the buffet with his mask pulled down.," 21 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb MultiPlan shares have tumbled after short seller Muddy Waters Capital LLC in November said the company manipulated its financial statements to mask a crumbling business. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "2020 SPAC Boom Lifted Wall Street’s Biggest Banks," 5 Jan. 2021 Posies smelled better than people and were often used to help mask body odor. Washington Post, "Hints From Heloise: Hearing aids and masks," 1 Jan. 2021 Now, picking up a theme from the 1918 flu pandemic, Jenkins and other leaders, including President-elect Joe Biden, are frequently invoking patriotism to encourage people to follow public health advice — especially mask wearing. Nic Garcia, Dallas News, "Despite critics, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins remains steadfast on COVID response," 31 Dec. 2020 Powers never fully explained his opposition to mask decrees despite his personal belief that everyone should wear one. Los Angeles Times, "Column: During the 1918 flu pandemic, L.A. didn’t make masks mandatory. It was a poor choice," 29 Dec. 2020 Some are targets threats and personal attacks from far-right activists, conservative groups and anti-vaxxers opposed to mask orders and quarantines. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: Dec. 10-16," 26 Dec. 2020 Continue in this manner to mask off the carpeting along the remaining walls. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Paint 4 Tricky Places in Your Home Like a Pro," 21 Dec. 2020 For years, the federal government has been researching potentially allowing these types of lighting matrix systems that are smart enough to mask out areas with reduced illumination, but so far, no luck on that front. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "Polestar 2 Gets Pixel LED Lights, but They're Not Coming to U.S.," 21 Dec. 2020 Butler said after two weeks of camp, and with the majority of the roster intact from last season’s run to the NBA Finals, a facial covering should not mask the messaging. Ira Winderman,, "Salty Spoelstra? Smiling Spoelstra? Heat coach’s emotions now masked, but not muted," 21 Dec. 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

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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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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