Definition of mask in English:

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Pronunciation: /mask/


1A covering for all or part of the face, worn as a disguise, or to amuse or terrify other people.
Example sentences
  • Disguising myself with this mask would be the key to winning Leah back!
  • If you see anybody wearing any kind of mask or disguise this Halloween, call the Police on them as soon as possible.
  • This crest mask represents a woman and is worn with a white mesh suit, which extends over the head of the masquerader.
disguise, false face
historical domino, visor
2A covering made of fiber or gauze and fitting over the nose and mouth to protect against dust or air pollutants, or made of sterile gauze and worn to prevent infection of the wearer or (in surgery) of the patient.
Example sentences
  • Wear a protective mask, covering nose and mouth, to decrease the percentage of polluted air breathed.
  • Patients should wear a mask during transport from the ward to the surgical suite, if possible.
  • The gauze mask helped protect her burned face until she could receive treatment in hospital.
2.1A protective covering fitting over the whole face, worn in fencing, ice hockey, and other sports.
Example sentences
  • The Ukranian marksman seems reluctant to play with a protective mask, and will in all probability miss out to be replaced again by Jon Dahl Tomasson.
  • But he also noted that catchers didn't always wear masks, and neither did hockey goaltenders.
  • The umpire took his mask off and gave me a look, knowing that it was a purpose pitch.
2.2A respirator used to filter inhaled air or to supply gas for inhalation.
Example sentences
  • Jemma said she wanted to be injected, but on the morning of her operation this proved difficult and she had to inhale anaesthetic via a mask.
  • Always wear a dust mask or respirator when using a sander to prevent inhalation of sawdust.
  • The fan is powered and configured with the exterior of the filter body to aid in drawing air through the filter media of the mask.
2.3 (also masque) A cosmetic preparation spread over the face and left for some time to cleanse and improve the skin.
Example sentences
  • This is a natural soft face masque containing an extract of brewers' yeast which is applied to the whole face.
  • I was ready to put my peeling face masque on. It smells like cucumber (funnily enough!) and is really sticky.
  • The Super food Antioxidant Masque is a super-antioxidant face masque that combines two super foods – Blueberries and Pomegranate – and has been developed to help minimise the negative effects of sun damaged skin.
3A likeness of a person’s face in clay or wax, especially one made by taking a mold from the face.
Example sentences
  • They have already moulded masks and now want to paint them all.
  • Dotted around the pitch-black stage, they appear to be sculpted masks on to which moving faces are projected.
  • Ghanaians do not make or use masks, but there are some funerary effigies in clay.
3.1A person’s face regarded as having set into a particular expression: his face was a mask of rage
More example sentences
  • If at any time he is stuck between a crowd of the opposite gender, he will give himself a mask of blank expression.
  • Tom sighed slightly, his expression in its cold mask, not showing the annoyance he felt.
  • His face wore a strange expression, a mask of anger and determination.
3.2A hollow model of a human head worn by ancient Greek and Roman actors.
Example sentences
  • Wax masks were worn by Roman actors in funeral processions and were kept in a special shrine in Roman houses.
  • The use of masks in Greek theatre was normal, reducing audience confusion when an actor played several roles.
  • In fact, on occasion her face looks like a mask out of some classical Greek tragedy - Wilde would probably have approved.
3.3The face or head of an animal, especially of a fox, as a hunting trophy.
Example sentences
  • A friend has left me a fox mask with an inscription to say that it was caught by the Hunt in 1936.
3.4 archaic A masked person.
Example sentences
  • The mask appeared in front of him. At first, he didn't know what to make of this thing. He quickly realized that this was the voice that was speaking to him.
  • On the eighth day, Okonko members return to dance at the market, but no mask performs.
4A manner or expression that hides one’s true character or feelings; a pretense: she let her mask of moderate respectability slip
More example sentences
  • I'm not going to stand behind the social mask and pretend that everything is OK when it's not.
  • Try as we might to pretend otherwise, the mask of polite discourse had been shattered.
  • But the offer is vetoed by Finn, who alone sees the ugly fascist behind The Man's smooth mask of respectability.
pretense, semblance, veil, screen, front, false front, facade, veneer, blind, disguise, guise, concealment, cover, cover-up, cloak, camouflage
5 Photography A piece of something, such as a card, used to cover a part of an image that is not required when exposing a print.
Example sentences
  • If a diffused edge is preferred on the image, the mask can be placed on top of the glass rather than under it.
  • You may notice that the entire image has the unsharp mask applied to it beforehand.
  • The images are quite large (600x400 pixels), but when you load the masks, they conform to the size of your photo.
6 Electronics A patterned metal film used in the manufacture of microcircuits to allow selective modification of the underlying material.
Example sentences
  • Typical masks are made of metal patterns deposited on glass and have no internal plumbing.
  • The first barrier layer is selectively removed using an etch that is selective to the hard mask layer.
  • The cells are doped with N type dopants by using the photo-resist regions as masks.
7 Entomology The enlarged lower lip of a dragonfly larva, which can be extended to seize prey.
Example sentences
  • When a prey is in sight, the mask is thrust forward and the prey instantly impaled on the hooks, then drawn back to the mouth and eaten.
  • The moment that the larva approaches near enough to its prey, the innocent looking mask is unfolded and darted out, and the unsuspecting aquatic insect or small fish is seized by the teeth at the extremity and drawn back into its mouth.
  • The larvae of the emperor dragonfly are themselves voracious predators, armed with fearsome mouthparts known as a 'mask'.


[with object]
1Cover (the face) with a mask.
Example sentences
  • The rider's features couldn't be seen because of the large cloak masking its face.
  • Their faces were masked by the thick helmets that enveloped their heads.
  • His face was masked by a grey scarf and dark woollen hat and he was wearing dark trousers, a dark knee-length coat and black trainers with white stripes.
1.1Conceal (something) from view: the poplars masked a factory
More example sentences
  • She masked herself from view as she went through a hallway and entered a large bright room.
  • Trees masking cameras will be pruned to improve the view and community groups such as Homewatch will be developed.
  • Depending on design, they can mask undesirable sights or highlight attractive views.
1.2Disguise or hide (a sensation or quality): brandy did not completely mask the bitter taste
More example sentences
  • Fat and oil sticks to and coats the tongue, enhancing perceptions of smoothness, but also masking and altering taste perceptions.
  • Some people object to its bitter taste, even masked with fruit flavoring.
  • Powdered GHB is colorless and odorless but has a salty taste that is often masked by mixing it in fruit punches.
1.3Cover (an object or surface) so as to protect it from a process, especially painting: mask off doors and cupboards with sheets of plastic
More example sentences
  • Mask off the stencil with masking tape or more paper so that everywhere that you don't want pigment to pass through is masked off.
  • Masking tape takes ages to apply, it never comes off cleanly and it doesn't even mask off wet paint effectively.
  • The first step was to mask off an area around the metal cut-out, making sure that the spacing was even all the way around.


Mid 16th century: from French masque, from Italian maschera, mascara, probably from medieval Latin masca 'witch, specter', but influenced by Arabic masḵara 'buffoon'.

  • mascara from late 19th century:

    Acting and clowning are indirectly linked in mascara, from Italian maschera, which goes back to an Arabic word meaning ‘buffoon’. Most of the earliest English uses refer to theatrical make-up, though the first known, from 1886, suggests a more discreet use by gentlemen: ‘For darkening the eyebrows and moustaches without greasing them and making them prominent’. Through Italian maschera mascara is also linked to mask (mid 16th century) and masquerade (late 16th century).

Words that rhyme with mask

ask, bask, cask, flask, Krasnoyarsk, masque, task

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mask

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