\ 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 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

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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 However, middle school and high school students and staff who are vaccinated will only have to wear a mask while in common spaces such as crowded hallways. Linda Girardi,, 21 July 2021 Fully vaccinated people will not be required to wear a mask, although judges may require people to be masked in their courtrooms., 21 July 2021 During medal ceremonies, athletes will put their own medals on and must wear a mask on the podium. cleveland, 21 July 2021 Travelers entering by air will need to wear a mask in Canadian airports and on flights to and from the country, regardless of vaccination status. Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY, 21 July 2021 The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidance yesterday recommending everyone over the age of 2 wear a mask while in school, regardless of vaccination status. Aj Willingham, CNN, 20 July 2021 State health guidance recommends unvaccinated students wear a mask, but says districts should consider requiring masks for everyone if a partial mandate would be difficult to enforce. Olivia Krauth, The Courier-Journal, 20 July 2021 All Fiserv Forum guests age 2 and older must wear a mask, except when eating or drinking. Drake Bentley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 19 July 2021 While the guidance on wearing a face covering on public transport varies across the country, commuters using public transport in London must still wear a mask, according to a ruling from Transport For London. Washington Post, 19 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb San Francisco Bay Area health officials around the same time recommended residents mask indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. Angie Leventis Lourgos,, 21 July 2021 Your questions answered Today’s question comes from readers who want to know: If COVID-19 vaccines work so great, why do vaccinated people need to mask up indoors? Karen Kaplan Science And Medicine Editor, Los Angeles Times, 20 July 2021 On Monday, England ended all legal requirements to mask and socially distance, which unsurprisingly led to revelers partying and dancing in nightclubs without masks. Washington Post, 20 July 2021 Local residents and businesses were adjusting to the latest turnabout in the pandemic on Saturday as seven Bay Area counties recommended that everyone — vaccinated or not — mask up indoors once more. Danielle Echeverria, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 July 2021 Vaccination protects people very well, so, consistent with the rest of the guidance for vaccinated individuals, the CDC is saying vaccinated people don't need to mask indoors. Deblina Chakraborty, CNN, 15 July 2021 If those who are vaccinated no longer need to mask up, leave it at that. Phillip Molnar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 June 2021 Between cities and states, there are few ways to verify a person's vaccination status, plus businesses have varying policies on whether employees and guests need to mask up. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, 21 May 2021 Another popular grocery chain, Trader Joe’s, said last week that customers who are fully vaccinated no longer need to mask up in company stores., 19 May 2021

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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Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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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 All that sheep aroma must've masked our scent …— Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children


\ 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


transitive verb

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

More from Merriam-Webster on mask

Nglish: Translation of mask for Spanish Speakers

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


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