\ 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

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 The best protection is a COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose for those that need them, and as always, reducing contact with people outside of households and wearing a mask. Julie Mazziotta,, 29 Nov. 2021 Not everyone has the luxury of doing it, of course, but social distancing -- keeping 6 feet between you and others outside your household -- and wearing a mask are critical. Theresa Waldrop, CNN, 29 Nov. 2021 The post was accompanied by three photos — one of him in a room, apparently after taking a Covid test, one of an ambulance and another of him sitting in the ambulance, wearing a mask. NBC News, 26 Nov. 2021 And the man who pulled the trigger was not wearing a mask. New York Times, 26 Nov. 2021 If wearing a mask the rest of the evening after taking it off at the dining room table seems like overkill, Lee notes vulnerable people are better protected if they are not continuously exposed to the virus. Arkansas Online, 25 Nov. 2021 Katrina Alspaugh, 51, was at a security checkpoint in the airport when another passenger confronted her for not wearing a mask, according to a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police arrest report. Fox News, 24 Nov. 2021 For instance, Doran said large meetings with food in an office would likely be riskier than wearing a mask in a grocery store, but safer than dining indoors where the vaccination status of other guests is usually unknown. Globe Staff,, 23 Nov. 2021 Donors are asked to follow Goodyear’s COVID-19 guidelines, including wearing a mask, following social distancing guidelines and keeping toys in the trunk of the vehicle. Megan Becka, cleveland, 23 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb If not vaccinated, the agency recommends getting tested before and after travel in addition to mask-wearing while flying. Brooks Sutherland, The Enquirer, 19 Nov. 2021 Many of those battling addiction are often able to mask it, but substance use can still affect their work performance. Kelsey Moreira, Forbes, 12 Oct. 2021 Young children are quite safe, but keep them out of school and mask them up. WSJ, 7 Oct. 2021 Instead of accepting his status as a societal outcast, Jean-Page dissected what was perceived as odd about him in his new environment and worked to adapt and mask it as needed to grant him acceptance in different rooms. Essence, 8 Sep. 2021 The mandate-but-not-a-mandate move is just part of a slew of things Elizalde is doing to keep school buildings safe even if some kids don't mask up. Nimi Princewill, CNN, 13 Aug. 2021 All these obvious displays of bias—and the mental gymnastics required to make Rittenhouse a hero—mask another set of truths. Molly Osberg, The New Republic, 18 Nov. 2021 After all, Lasso’s aw-shucks affectations mask a deep wellspring of anxiety, alcohol dependence and naïveté. New York Times, 17 Nov. 2021 Lumping diverse groups together and treating them as a single entity can mask existing disparities. Kao Lee Yang, STAT, 15 Nov. 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

2 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 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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