\ 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 upOn 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 McGee said the greatest thing the public can do to support its overwhelmed health care workers is to follow safety guidelines -- get the vaccine, wear a mask and practice social distancing -- and to truly see the reality of covid-19. Jeannie Roberts, Arkansas Online, "Covid-war caregivers' scars going uncounted," 18 Jan. 2021 In October, Goodwyn said on social media that he was arrested and cited on Muni for refusing to wear a mask. Trisha Thadani,, "S.F. man and self-proclaimed ‘Proud Boy’ charged by FBI in Capitol attack," 16 Jan. 2021 In the course of the past year, even the decision of whether to wear a mask became politicized. New York Times, "There have now been over two million virus-related deaths worldwide.," 15 Jan. 2021 If there's a chance for infection within your home, wear a mask at home, too. Holly Yan, CNN, "Don't ignore this headline: The pandemic is getting worse. What happens next is up to you," 15 Jan. 2021 Practice social distancing using these tips, and wear a mask. Amina Khan Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Coronavirus Today: Where the vaccine rollout went wrong," 14 Jan. 2021 Additional measures now include limiting team pregame meetings in locker rooms to 10 minutes, with the extra caveat that everyone must wear a mask. Tim Reynolds, ajc, "Hawks-Suns game latest to be called off by NBA amid virus," 13 Jan. 2021 Meanwhile, do stay in touch, and stay safe — wear a mask. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pharmalittle: Pfizer to boost Covid-19 vaccine production; HHS overrules FDA on its top lawyer pick," 12 Jan. 2021 Pennsylvania representative Susan Wild noted that swaths of congresspeople refused to wear a mask even when offered to them. Sara Kiley Watson, Popular Science, "The attack on the Capitol had all the ingredients of a COVID-19 superspreader event," 12 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb There is no evidence that the new variant causes more severe illness or is transmitted differently, and mask wearing and other precautions still work, the CDC said. Anchorage Daily News, "Governors say administration misled them on pace of COVID-19 vaccine shipments as worries over variant grow," 16 Jan. 2021 The airline is also emphasizing the importance of complying with crew instructions and mask rules in preflight announcements. Alison Sider, WSJ, "Airlines, FAA Tighten Security Ahead of Biden Inauguration," 15 Jan. 2021 Goodman — eyes wide and mask sliding below his face — continues trying to keep the crowd at bay. Jack Gillum, ProPublica, "“Where They Countin’ the Votes?!”: New Video Details Tense Moments as Capitol Mob Sought Out Lawmakers," 15 Jan. 2021 There is no evidence that the new variant causes more severe illness or is transmitted differently, and mask wearing and other precautions still work, the CDC said. Lauran Neergaard, Star Tribune, "Governors complain over pace of COVID-19 vaccine shipments," 15 Jan. 2021 This has allowed criminals and foreign government officials to mask illicit activities or keep wealth hidden from their home countries., "Secrets in the sky," 13 Jan. 2021 Gyms and fitness studios must adhere to mask and social distancing requirements, with 50% capacity limits on group fitness classes, not to exceed 25 people. Amy Lavalley,, "Porter County toughens COVID-19 restrictions as cases, deaths increase," 4 Dec. 2020 Health officials credit the decline to strict adherence to mask wearing, travel restrictions, and social distancing in many Southern Hemisphere countries. Julie Washington, cleveland, "Why you should get the flu vaccine during COVID-19 pandemic: Doctors say it will help hospitals avoid double whammy," 10 Aug. 2020 MultiPlan shares have tumbled after short seller Muddy Waters Capital LLC in November said the company manipulated its financial statements to mask a crumbling business. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "2020 SPAC Boom Lifted Wall Street’s Biggest Banks," 5 Jan. 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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Time Traveler for mask

Time Traveler

The first known use of mask was circa 1533

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Statistics for mask

Last Updated

24 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for mask


How to pronounce mask (audio)

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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Comments on mask

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