\ ˈmask How to pronounce mask (audio) \

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 infectious material
e or less commonly masque : 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 \ ˈmask-​ˌlīk How to pronounce masklike (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for mask

Synonyms: Noun


Synonyms: Verb

camouflage, cloak, disguise, dress up

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


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

Indeed, these days there’s hardly a household, grooming or wellness product that hasn’t been infused with lavender’s sweet, antiseptic-clean aroma: candles, diffusers, shower gels, liquid hand sanitizer, face mists, eye masks. Steven Kurutz, New York Times, "Why Does Everything Smell, So Peacefully, of Lavender?," 14 Sep. 2019 Police in riot gear and gas-masks face down crowds of angry youths who are calling for the downfall of an authoritarian government. The Economist, "A counter-revolutionary love story from Hong Kong," 14 Sep. 2019 The good news is sheet masks are available at a range of price points, great for a quick hydrating pick-me-up and an easy splurge. Nikhita Mahtani, CNN Underscored, "10 top-rated sheet masks you can buy on Amazon right now," 11 Sep. 2019 Clay masks are the gold standard for oily skin types (who tend to have bigger pores, since oil contributes to the clogging). Deanna Pai, Glamour, "6 Super-Satisfying Ways to Clean Out Your Pores," 4 Sep. 2019 The Neutrogena masks were hugely popular on social media, with celebrities like Lena Dunham posing with them on Instagram. Rachel Lubitz,, "Neutrogena Is Recalling Its Light Therapy Acne Mask," 25 July 2019 Aveeno Clear Complexion Pure Matte Peel-Off Face Mask Palm says this no-rinse mask is gentle yet effective, with ingredients including lactic acid and glycolic acid that target pimples and heal post-inflammatory pigmentation and redness. Christina Heiser, NBC News, "What are the best skin care products for acne-prone skin? Look for these key ingredients," 25 July 2019 But this mask was great, and never squeezed or pinched. Madison Roberts,, "What We're Loving: Editor-Tested Travel Accessories That Will Change the Way You Pack," 11 July 2019 The mask is your secret ingredient, the unexpected element that initiates the sleep sequence. Corina Quinn, Condé Nast Traveler, "If You Pack One Thing In Your Carry-On, Make It This Travel Kit," 14 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Even before sundown, police fired rounds of tear gas to clear protesters occupying a key road, and masked groups in black retaliated by lobbing molotov cocktails and smoke bombs at police barricades outside government buildings, setting them ablaze. Washington Post, "Hong Kong protesters confront police tear gas with petrol bombs in 15th weekend of demonstrations," 15 Sep. 2019 Before that, Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids in 1994 as a track and field athlete and in 1997 for elevated levels of epitestosterone, a masking agent. Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, "Tim Tebow, BALCO chemist on witness list in banned drug case," 11 Sep. 2019 Diuretics have a number of uses, one of which is as a masking agent. Michael Mccann,, "Examining Wilson Chandler's Suspension for PEDs and Infrequency of Steroids in the NBA," 29 Aug. 2019 But just a few months after the team signed free agent Robert Alford to a three-year deal, news broke that Peterson had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and was also found to have attempted to use a masking agent to cover things up. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "Arizona Cardinals position breakdown: A closer look at the defensive backs," 7 July 2019 This also allowed more of the sausage flavor to come through, rather than getting masked by char and smoke. New York Times, "How to Host a Summer Barbecue Like a Professional," 23 Aug. 2019 But for decades, it was masked by a landmark act of generosity. Washington Post, "Baltimore Orchestra and others nationwide face challenges," 11 Aug. 2019 At first, archaeologists struggled to read the inscription, which had been partly masked by corrosion. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "This Ancient Roman Souvenir Stylus Is Inscribed With a Corny Joke," 2 Aug. 2019 The realness is there, even if it’s masked by freaky, made-up Scandi folklore. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Why Midsommar Will Make You Want to Dress Like You’re In a Swedish Cult This Summer," 3 July 2019

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

13 Oct 2019

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

 (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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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

Comments on mask

What made you want to look up mask? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to fake an opponent out of position

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