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 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
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

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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

Example Sentences

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
Others suggested the school district was trying to find any reason to prolong the mask mandates. Fox News, 19 Sep. 2022 Individual transit agencies in L.A. County could still choose to order their own mask mandates. Los Angeles Times, 16 Sep. 2022 Over the course of that school year, 18 states and the District of Columbia issued mask mandates, while 11 tried to institute bans. New York Times, 8 Sep. 2022 Soto worried that while Echelson said the district may impose mask mandates on individual schools or classes in case of surges, there was no metric in place to determine when those would kick in. Christopher Huffaker, BostonGlobe.com, 7 Sep. 2022 Major cities including Chicago and Atlanta dropped their mask mandates on their transportation systems. Michelle Kaske, Fortune, 7 Sep. 2022 But her campaign’s priorities mirror the organization’s, including advocating against mask mandates and doing away with critical race theory, already banned in Florida’s public schools. Leslie Postal, Orlando Sentinel, 1 Sep. 2022 Hernandez-Mats advocated delaying students' return to school in the fall of 2020 and continuing mask mandates in 2021, in defiance of DeSantis' administration. Anthony Izaguirre, ajc, 27 Aug. 2022 Duval County was at the center of school district fights over mask mandates and more recently over how to implement DeSantis’s new parental rights laws. Lori Rozsa, Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2022
Verb
Watts, a veteran of the genre despite never quite being a scream queen, is delightfully disturbing in a role that requires her to mask her character’s true nature as well as her face. Michael Nordine, Variety, 15 Sep. 2022 Sadly, the veggies were not enough to mask the pale, slightly salty and bland chicken breast. cleveland, 8 Sep. 2022 What the broader consensus had helped to mask was the continuing division over the federal government's role in guaranteeing Black citizenship and dignity. Peniel E. Joseph, CNN, 6 Sep. 2022 Close contacts will be required to mask after exposure, as will students returning from isolation within 10 days of their first positive test. Christopher Huffaker, BostonGlobe.com, 31 Aug. 2022 This is most evident whenever anyone takes their sweet time to complete a task, which was originally used to mask a PS3-era load of textures and assets. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 31 Aug. 2022 Gutierrez claimed Rapier wanted to mask his efforts to turn public opinion against the ACA. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, 29 Aug. 2022 An entire class would be asked to mask, regardless of vaccination status, if three or more cases were detected in the classroom at one time. Tracy Swartz, Chicago Tribune, 9 Aug. 2022 To be candid, there are also a handful of vendors who intentionally obfuscate to mask deficiencies in their tech. Robert Lindner, Forbes, 4 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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 1 Oct. 2022.

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Kids Definition

mask 1 of 2

noun

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.

mask

2 of 2

verb

masked; masking
: conceal, disguise
All that sheep aroma must've masked our scent … Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Medical Definition

mask 1 of 2

noun

1
: a protective covering for the face
2
a
: 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

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

Last Updated: 21 Sep 2022

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