There are 2 main definitions of mass in English:

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mass 1

Syllabification: mass


1A coherent, typically large body of matter with no definite shape: a mass of curly hair from here the trees were a dark mass
More example sentences
  • At the opposite end of what passed for the main street of the village, a group of the attackers had gathered, a mass of dark shapes and forms.
  • The townspeople moved as quickly as they could to get back to their homes, and the main street was just a mass of dark forms running and fleeing.
  • The sky was a dome of darkness over their heads, the stars blotted out by a mass of thick, dark clouds.
pile, heap;
accumulation, aggregation, accretion, concretion, buildup
informal batch, wad
1.1A large number of people or objects crowded together: a mass of cyclists
More example sentences
  • From this elevated angle, the crowd looked like a mass of glowing angels doing some sort of celestial dance.
  • He grabbed two wires and then pressed them together, sending a mass of sparks all over the engine.
  • A mass of runners swarmed the roads for one of the towns' biggest yearly events.
crowd, horde, large group, throng, host, troop, army, herd, flock, drove, swarm, mob, pack, press, crush, flood, multitude
1.2A large amount of material: a mass of conflicting evidence
More example sentences
  • Sue now provides this, making use of a mass of hitherto unused material.
  • The editor has a mass of material from which the text is now extracted.
  • It is not only encyclopaedias, dictionaries, and libraries that create the illusion of a semblance of order from a mass of chaotic and random materials.
1.3 (masses) informal A large quantity or amount of something: we get masses of homework
More example sentences
  • The survey was set up to record masses of quantitative data, as well as qualitative data in the form of written comments.
  • Wonderful scenery, plenty of walks and masses of peace and quiet.
  • He said it was clear that the people needed information which engaged their interest rather than masses of general data.
1.4Any of the main portions in a painting or drawing that each have some unity in color, lighting, or some other quality: the masterly distribution of masses
More example sentences
  • The solid background of the Byzantine mosaic forms the most obvious colour mass, against which the figures in a scene are set.
  • His golden glows and ghostly, bluish lights articulate masses more elemental than any particular subject in nature.
  • Her textured masses never seem to be simply formalist constructions, even when viewers don't know her history.
2 (the mass of) The majority of: the great mass of the population had little interest in the project
More example sentences
  • There is considerable disparity of wealth between a small elite and the mass of the population.
  • While shooting was hated by the mass of the rural population, and the Game Laws universally flouted, they took a benign and active interest in the hunt.
  • Many student activists continued to advocate an electoral boycott, a campaign which has fallen on deaf ears among the mass of the population.
majority, greater part/number, best/better part, major part, bulk, main body, lion's share;
(the mass) most
2.1 (the masses) The ordinary people.
Example sentences
  • The revolutionaries have failed so far to mobilize and unite the masses and pious middle classes of most countries.
  • And the masses also defy all caste and communal barriers on such crucial junctions and vote to restore social and national health.
  • You can talk to radicals in Europe and they'll tell you that their agenda is very popular with the masses when, in fact, it's not.
common people, populace, public, people, rank and file, crowd, proletariat;
derogatory hoi polloi, rabble, riffraff, (great) unwashed, (common) herd, proles, plebs
humorous sheeple
historical third estate
3 Physics The quantity of matter that a body contains, as measured by its acceleration under a given force or by the force exerted on it by a gravitational field.
Example sentences
  • Every object with mass exerts a gravitational force.
  • An object with mass creates a gravitational field around itself.
  • The problem is that gravitons carry mass and energy, which are the source of the gravitational field in the first place.
3.1(In general use) weight.
Example sentences
  • We calculated percentage fat mass by dividing fat mass by total weight.
  • This device measures the atomic weight, or mass, as well as the prevalence of various atoms or molecules, and it scans the components one at a time.
  • To calculate the moles of nitrogen in each sample, core segment dry mass was multiplied by its nitrogen percentage and divided by nitrogen's atomic weight.


[attributive] Back to top  
Relating to, done by, or affecting large numbers of people or things: the movie has mass appeal a mass exodus of refugees
More example sentences
  • Here conventionality is a contributing factor to the novel's success; these are universal themes with mass appeal.
  • Nearly forty people were in hospital today and a further 50 are believed to be affected by a mass outbreak of food poisoning.
  • Uncertain as to where to go or what to do, they eventually become part of the mass exodus of refugees fleeing for their very lives.
widespread, general, wholesale, universal, large-scale, extensive, pandemic


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Assemble or cause to assemble into a mass or as one body: [with object]: both countries began massing troops in the region [no object]: clouds massed heavily on the horizon
More example sentences
  • In many areas mine warfare is replacing massed armies facing each other across vast plains.
  • In both cases, you have a mobile army massing and maneuvering against static defensive positions.
  • During this performance the assembled pipers and drummers will play together in one massed pipe band.
assemble, marshal, gather together, muster, round up, mobilize, rally


be a mass of
Be completely covered with: his face was a mass of bruises
More example sentences
  • For the longest time, the cover appeared to be a mass of abstract marks, then suddenly it came clear and two schooners at sea appeared out of the scratches.
  • Her hair is torn out, her face is a mass of bruises and her neck is almost as thick as that of a horse.
  • His shoulders, back, chest, and upper arms were a mass of bruises, some of them accompanied by bleeding scrapes and cuts.
in the mass
As a whole: her genuine affection for humanity in the mass
More example sentences
  • Contemporary Americans, in the mass, seem to have lost sight of, and connection with, the past.
  • There had to be minds to perceive ideas, and since only a small minority of our ideas were the products of our own fancy, they had in the mass to have some external cause.
  • Democracies work well, and my hypothesis is that this is because people in the mass have a different kind of intelligence at work.


Example sentences
  • Even though photons are massless, they still have an equivalent mass because they have energy.
  • For example, Einstein's special relativity theory predicts that massless particles in a vacuum travel at the speed of light and that particles with mass travel more slowly, in a way that can be calculated if we know their mass.
  • Hawking radiation, involving massless virtual particles and particle-antiparticle pairs, for example, may explain mass and radiation leakage from blackholes.


Late Middle English: from Old French masse, from Latin massa, from Greek maza 'barley cake'; perhaps related to massein 'knead'.

  • There is no relation at all between late Middle English mass ‘a large body with no definite shape’ and Old English Mass ‘the celebration of the Christian Eucharist’. The first goes back to Greek maza ‘barley cake’. The other derives ultimately from Latin mittere ‘to dismiss, send’, and so is connected with message, missive (Late Middle English), and amass (Late Middle English), as well as with words such as permit. The use for the religious service may come from its last words in Latin, Ite, missa est ‘Go, it is the dismissal’. Ordinary people have been called the masses since at least 1837, and they have been supplied with goods by mass production since 1893.

Words that rhyme with mass

alas, Alsace, amass, Bass, chasse, crass, crevasse, en masse, gas, Hamas, lass, morass, sass, tarantass, tass, wrasse
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There are 2 main definitions of mass in English:

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Mass 2 Syllabification: Mass


1The Christian Eucharist or Holy Communion, especially in the Roman Catholic Church: we went to Mass the Latin Mass
More example sentences
  • Ideal Christmas gifts will be on sale next weekend at all Masses in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
  • The Masses and other ceremonies in the Church of the Most Holy Rosary this Christmas had full congregations.
  • Preparations for First Holy Communion began at all Masses in the parish church last Sunday week.
1.1A celebration of the Eucharist: there was a Mass and the whole family was supposed to go
1.2A musical setting of parts of the liturgy used in the Mass.
Example sentences
  • The main work was the beautiful setting in G Minor of The Mass by Vaughan Williams.
  • The concert ended with a Mass by Bellini in which the organist, choir and soloists gave a magnificent performance.
  • They also played an excerpt from his Mass in C minor, with its haunting Kyrie.


Old English mæsse, from ecclesiastical Latin missa 'dismissal, prayer at the conclusion of a liturgy, liturgy, mass', from Latin miss- 'dismissed', from mittere 'send, dismiss'.

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