mask

1 of 2

noun

plural masks
1
a(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
2
a
: 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
3
a
: something that serves to conceal or disguise : pretense, cloak
aware of the masks, facades and defenses people erect to protect themselvesKenneth 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
4
a
: 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

mask

2 of 2

verb

masked; masking; masks

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

1
a
: 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 up
On 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
masklike 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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
This ticket even includes a welcome glass of champagne, snacks, slippers, a sleep mask and earplugs. Rebecca Ann Hughes, Forbes, 17 Feb. 2024 Both California and Oregon still encourage people who test positive to wear a mask around others for at least 10 days. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 16 Feb. 2024 Some of the migrants hid their faces behind masks or their hands. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, 16 Feb. 2024 First up, though, came Mr. Personality, in which a 26-year-old woman dated 20 men… all of whom kept their faces hidden behind creepy latex masks. EW.com, 15 Feb. 2024 Many viral videos emerged from the party, including clips of the Philadelphia Eagles center dancing in a red and yellow wrestling mask and the 14-time Grammy winner singing along to her own songs with Travis. Hannah Dailey, Billboard, 14 Feb. 2024 Beal struggled in his first four games with the mask, going 20 of 58 (.345) from the field and 3 of 24 (.125) from 3-point range. Jason Anderson, Sacramento Bee, 13 Feb. 2024 The weight of the mask is just light enough to feel comforting rather than constricting. Megan Schaltegger, Travel + Leisure, 4 Feb. 2024 The lip mask comes in six different flavors and is formulated with a berry fruit complex, murumuru seed, and shea butter to soften and nourish lips over time. Jessie Quinn, Peoplemag, 4 Feb. 2024
Verb
Differential Privacy Think of this as adding a touch of static to a radio transmission to mask the original message. Moran Zavdi, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 There is also established documentation that Hamas used Al-Shifa before the war to mask some of its activities. Matthew Rosenberg, New York Times, 12 Feb. 2024 This tool will mask your internet activities and prevent others from getting access to your data. Sponsored Content, The Mercury News, 9 Feb. 2024 My work aims to create a social care infrastructure to prevent and treat unmasked and masked pain that permeates society. Mathew Holloway, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Feb. 2024 However, personnel in licensed healthcare facilities who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 and flu since the autumn must still mask up while working in patient-care areas. Rong-Gong Lin Ii, Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb. 2024 Bagby and his wife and business partner, Dande, scrupulously followed official regulations, closing when that was ordered, masking when that was mandated. Peter Rowe, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Feb. 2024 After dog tooth violet retreats underground in the heat of summer, choose perennial companion plants that will mask the empty garden spots, such as ferns. Nadia Hassani, Better Homes & Gardens, 31 Jan. 2024 On both occasions, the Iranians backed away from their campaign of aggression — albeit with some superficially hostile maneuvers designed to mask its pullback. The Editors, National Review, 29 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mask.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle French masque, from Old Italian maschera

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

1539, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of mask was circa 1533

Dictionary Entries Near mask

Cite this Entry

“Mask.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mask. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

mask

1 of 2 noun
1
a
: a cover or partial cover for the face used for disguise
a Halloween mask
b
: masker
c
: a sculptured face made by a mold in plaster or wax
2
: something that disguises or conceals : cloak
3
a
: a covering used to protect the face
a baseball catcher's mask
b
c
: a device covering the nose and mouth to make it easier to inhale something
an oxygen mask
d
: a covering (as of gauze) over the nose and mouth to prevent infectious droplets from being exhaled into the air
4
: the head or face of a mammal (as a fox or dog)
5

mask

2 of 2 verb
1
: to put on or wear a mask
2
a
: conceal, disguise
masked their real purpose
b
: to make impossible to perceive or distinguish
masks undesirable flavors
3
: to cover for protection

Medical Definition

mask

1 of 2 noun
1
: a protective covering for the face or part of the face
2
a
: a device usually covering the mouth and nose to facilitate delivery of a gas (such as a general anesthetic) see also oxygen mask
b
: a comparable device or covering (as of polypropylene fiber or cotton fabric) worn 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
3
: a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries

mask

2 of 2 transitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on mask

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