\ 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

But the masks that the American team brought with them were sized for adults. Hannah Beech, Richard C. Paddock And Muktita Suhartono, New York Times, "‘Still Can’t Believe It Worked’: The Story of the Thailand Cave Rescue," 12 July 2018 The two approached the bank wearing the masks and hooded sweatshirts, but left after discovering the bank’s doors were locked, prosecutors said. Ruth Bruno,, "New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty To Robbery Of Killingworth Bank," 11 July 2018 The elbow opened up a cut that required four stitches and forced Jackson to play with a mask in the second half. Scott Bordow, azcentral, "Phoenix Suns' Josh Jackson to receive concussion testing," 7 July 2018 The planet stands clearly out, visible as a bright point to the right of the centre of the image, which is blacked out by the coronagraph mask used to block the blinding light of the central star. Richard Tribou,, "Image captures moment planet is born, scientists say," 2 July 2018 The players donned the masks after beating the Falcons 15-10 in the NFC Divisional Round. Jenna West,, "The Eagles' Super Bowl Rings Pay Tribute to the 'Philly Special' and Dog Masks," 14 June 2018 The regulator controls the flow of oxygen between the bottle and the mask. Alan Arnette, Outside Online, "Everest Summit Bids Cut Short by Equipment Failure," 16 May 2018 Smith was wearing black pants, a black sweatshirt, a black glove and had a mask around his neck, the release stated. Staff Report, Aurora Beacon-News, "Aurora man convicted on gun charge," 16 May 2018 This is the third time in 10 years the pet masks have been used, Boone Grove Fire Chief Mike Meinert said. Becky Jacobs, Post-Tribune, "7 Labradors rescued from Porter Township garage fire," 9 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Those and similar platform bans have in turn become a rallying cry for the far right, who often both mask their positions and seek broader sympathy by positioning themselves as victims of censorship by digital platforms. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Amazon Sold Books, Backpacks, and Toys Promoting Hate to Kids, Report Shows," 7 July 2018 Success Rate: All bitcoin transactions are visible on the blockchain, but some buyers and sellers mask their identity. Elliott Krause, WSJ, "A Fifth of All Bitcoin Is Missing. These Crypto Hunters Can Help," 5 July 2018 Aren’t Americans already hard at work figuring out how to game fintech by masking our less-attractive digital traits? Joseph N. Distefano,, "Fintech lenders are tracking and judging your digital trail," 3 July 2018 Two masked gunman got out and approached Onfroy, who was in the driver’s seat, with both trying to reach into the car in an attempt to get a bag Onfroy had with him. Brett Clarkson,, "XXXTentacion's mausoleum gravesite revealed in Instagram photo by his mother," 1 July 2018 Comparison: Buddy Hield Allen’s shooting range and ability to score at volume should mask enough of his defensive issues and help him find an NBA role as a supporting scorer. Jeremy Woo,, "2018 NBA Draft: Grayson Allen Scouting Report and Highlights," 18 June 2018 In other words, IAMs have the effect of undercounting risks and masking uncertainty, which is unfortunate since risks and uncertainties are the signal features of climate policymaking. David Roberts, Vox, "We are almost certainly underestimating the economic risks of climate change," 8 June 2018 But at the amateur level, the topic has surfaced more recently as a growing number of transgender athletes look to compete without masking their identities. Collin Binkley, The Christian Science Monitor, "Transgender athletes compete at Boston, other marathons," 9 Apr. 2018 Like other ride-sharing apps, users can also coordinate and chat with one another via in-app messaging and masked telephone numbers. Sunset, "Waze Is Making Your Commute Easier, Once Again," 22 Jan. 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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Dictionary Entries near mask






mask crab


Statistics for mask

Last Updated

1 Sep 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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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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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