Definition of mask in English:



  • 1A covering for all or part of the face, worn as a disguise, or to amuse or frighten others.

    • ‘The masks and disguises donned by nearly every character in the play create a dizzying parody of both the theatre itself and society.’
    • ‘I opened the box, and showed him the black fuzzy wrist and ankle cuffs with matching black fuzzy eye-covering mask.’
    • ‘Some put on frightening masks, some had their faces tattooed with scary figures while a few had horns growing out of their heads.’
    • ‘Two other men, both wearing masks, then jumped in.’
    • ‘But I agree no matter how much it stinks, I'll be there for the opening matinee geeked out wearing a trench coat with cowprint mask.’
    • ‘It promises to be a wacky race featuring disguises and masks and neo-virginal veils of innocence.’
    • ‘He pulls off his coat and mask, revealing the usual flapped-open pants, and smiles broadly.’
    • ‘Wearing a white, knitted mask, he moved with an impish, cartoonlike quality.’
    • ‘If you see anybody wearing any kind of mask or disguise this Halloween, call the Police on them as soon as possible.’
    • ‘Men wearing masks dance among them in an attempt to frighten the child, who has to walk clockwise through this scene of carnage.’
    • ‘I reached over and yanked the man's mask off of his head, then stood back and regarded his face with curiosity.’
    • ‘Here is a bus full of them wearing identical masks; this same mask shows up often, but I have no idea what it depicts.’
    • ‘The only way to differentiate between them was their domino masks.’
    • ‘It gave me a start, but I soon noticed that it was a very ornate mask.’
    • ‘Disguising myself with this mask would be the key to winning Leah back!’
    • ‘He left just 25 tiny flakes of skin on a woman's stocking which he wore as a mask then discarded in a stolen getaway car.’
    • ‘The expensive, bought costumes and masks are very often inappropriate and can genuinely frighten smaller children, she adds.’
    • ‘Even bandanas, which could be used as masks, are discouraged.’
    • ‘Soon, the assassin reveals herself as female wearing a black leather mask as she runs out carrying the gun that she used.’
    • ‘The device beeped twice as the display lit up, revealing the face of a young woman in a domino mask.’
    • ‘As the interior dome light went on, Ford caught a glimpse of a white ceramic mask on the disembarking passenger.’
    • ‘Here the players designed and constructed their own masks.’
    • ‘The colourful use of masks, live music and puppets, both large and small, are used to illustrate this fun, clever and moving story.’
    • ‘On her face is a domino mask decorated to look like a bird's face and beak.’
    • ‘The trademark seems to be a big fawn dog with a black facial mask.’
    • ‘Even the tots wore their costumes and enjoyed the fun, peering through their grotesque masks, and frightening their elders.’
    • ‘Every sort of mask was laid out, kings, princesses, cows, snakes, skeletons, cats and even a lovely ballerina.’
    • ‘In the middle of this smoky, beery evening, a tall, lanky figure walks onstage wearing a grotesque hare-lipped mask.’
    • ‘A strange sackcloth mask with two slit-like eyeholes is pulled over his head.’
    • ‘She opened her dresser drawer and pulled out a black and silver mask.’
    • ‘Guests were asked to come along in fancy dress or carry an eye mask.’
    • ‘To frighten his enemies, he began to wear a fearsome mask when he went into battle.’
    • ‘He gave a soft chuckle and his light eyes made his silver mask less frightening.’
    • ‘Closer to me were two children, also wearing masks.’
    • ‘This crest mask represents a woman and is worn with a white mesh suit, which extends over the head of the masquerader.’
    • ‘She flipped down the veil on her mask, looking fretfully at the figure ahead of her.’
    • ‘She recognised it the moment she saw it - her white porcelain mask for the Moonlight Festival.’
    • ‘She topped her satiny black boudoir gown of her design with a magnificent feathery headdress and mask.’
    • ‘Rumor also has it that he was smiling wildly underneath his catcher's mask.’
    • ‘This one night, my rat head mask shifted and I couldn't see anything, so I just ran onstage and tried to do the part.’
    disguise, veil, false face, domino, stocking mask, fancy dress
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  • 2A covering made of fibre or gauze and fitting over the nose and mouth to protect against air pollutants, or made of sterile gauze and worn to prevent infection of the wearer or (in surgery) of the patient.

    • ‘Wear a protective mask, covering nose and mouth, to decrease the percentage of polluted air breathed.’
    • ‘Worn correctly, the mask should cover the nose with the metal band contouring to the bridge of the nose.’
    • ‘The surgical mask serves to collect bacteria from the nasopharyngeal airway of the wearer.’
    • ‘An example of this occurred when a company was asked to compare the resistance of several surgical masks to blood penetration.’
    • ‘Staff members caring for the patient and those cleaning the room must wear fit-tested masks.’
    • ‘Whether a surgical mask or something even more sophisticated could protect you is unclear.’
    • ‘Perhaps surgical masks also should be standard wear for patients.’
    • ‘Sometimes patients complain it is hard to breath with the white masks.’
    • ‘You should wear eye goggles, a mask over your nose and mouth, and rubber or latex gloves.’
    • ‘Patients should wear a mask during transport from the ward to the surgical suite, if possible.’
    • ‘As he was an habitual wearer of a dust mask, it is far from clear to me why this adjustment was made.’
    • ‘The gauze mask helped protect her burned face until she could receive treatment in hospital.’
    • ‘His mission accomplished, he covered his mouth and nose with a mask and entered the room.’
    • ‘Throughout lower Manhattan, rescue workers and police officers wore surgical masks to protect them from the dust.’
    • ‘When health workers come into contact with suspected cases they and the patients will wear surgical masks.’
    • ‘Unless a mask is worn, blood or other secretions from the patient can enter the surgeon's mouth, maximising the chances of infection.’
    • ‘Then, if a patient is asked to wear a mask while the physician rules out an infection of concern, it will not be a new concept to the patient.’
    • ‘Precautions for droplet infection should be instituted, including the wearing of masks and rigorous disinfection and hygiene procedures.’
    • ‘She pulled her hair into a medical hat and applied a mask on her nose and mouth.’
    • ‘If any visitor or family member has an illness, either the patient or the ill person should wear a mask.’
    matte, photomask, shadow mask, masking, masking tape
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    1. 2.1 A protective covering fitting over the whole face, worn in fencing, ice hockey, and other sports.
      • ‘Last of all, she put on the fencing mask, through which she could see Victoria, but her face wouldn't get hit.’
      • ‘There are no problems with his level of fitness but this is a facial injury and the mask might speed up his return.’
      • ‘Players sport masks that discourage even traces of light from influencing them.’
      • ‘The fencing mask gives a good level of visibility, can be removed quickly if grappling happens.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The umpire took his mask off and gave me a look, knowing that it was a purpose pitch.’
      • ‘She was in a fencing outfit, so they couldn't see her face, because of the fencing mask.’
      • ‘Only recently were the protective outfits and masks adopted by fencers.’
      • ‘Giants catcher Hank Gowdy, however, stumbled over his mask and dropped the ball.’
      • ‘But he also noted that catchers didn't always wear masks, and neither did hockey goaltenders.’
      • ‘There may even be hostility between the goalies that even their masks can't hide.’
      • ‘He once stepped onto the ice for practice, wearing nothing but a mask and his skates.’
      • ‘Edwards appeared at the podium wearing his number 59 Chargers jersey and a football mask.’
      • ‘The catcher throws his mask off and he's not sure where the ball is.’
      • ‘The French fencing master La Boessiere invented the fencing mask, allowing a much safer bout.’
      face mask, protective mask, gas mask, oxygen mask, fencing mask, iron mask, ski mask, dust mask
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    2. 2.2 A respirator used to filter inhaled air or to supply gas for inhalation.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He activates a control on his belt and activates his mask's infrared filter.’
      • ‘He had grown used to it, at least when he had his mask and filters that allowed him to breathe.’
      • ‘An ambulance crew or doctor arriving at the scene will give oxygen through a mask or nose tubes to increase the amount reaching the heart.’
      • ‘After surgery oxygen-enriched air can be provided via a mask.’
      • ‘For this treatment, a patient will wear a mask over their nose during sleep that blows air into their throat at a pressure level that is right for them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The device works by converting medication into a mist and delivering it through a mask that you wear over your nose and mouth.’
      • ‘When Rees was giving birth, she was close to blacking out from pain and turned to reach for the mask supplying a painkilling gas.’
      • ‘A plastic mask covered her mouth and nose, feeding oxygen to her in her oblivion.’
      • ‘If the child has cyanosis, they may need to receive extra oxygen through a mask.’
      • ‘The flow rate of fixed concentration masks should be adjusted for patients with high peak inspiratory flows.’
      • ‘For this treatment, you will wear a mask over your nose during sleep that blows air into your throat at a pressure level that is right for you.’
      • ‘High risk of exposure to an unknown or known agent may necessitate that an N95 respirator mask be used.’
      • ‘A mask connected to a small air supply had been strapped harshly over her face.’
      • ‘Or you might try a nebulized form of the anesthetic lidocaine, which you inhale through a mask as a fine mist.’
      • ‘The oxygen is breathed in through tubes that you put in your nose or through a mask that goes over your mouth and nose.’
      • ‘Other treatments that work for some people are breathing oxygen through a mask or using a numbing medicine in the nose.’
      • ‘When you need to use a dust mask or respirator, be sure to use the right one for the job.’
      • ‘Always wear a dust mask or respirator when using a sander to prevent inhalation of sawdust.’
    3. 2.3archaic A masked person.
      • ‘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.’
  • 3A face pack.

    ‘this exfoliating mask helps clear your pores and leaves your skin feeling soft and healthy’
    • ‘A chocolate face masque made with organic cocoa is simply amazing for your skin.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is the best face masque I have ever used.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 4A likeness of a person's face moulded or sculpted in clay or wax.

    • ‘There are several different versions of Napoleon's death mask in circulation - after his death many people, including hero-worshippers, wanted to own a copy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The last three chapters are divided according to animal figures, human forms, and masks.’
    • ‘The thing about the mask that looks odd to me is that the sculpted eyes look a bit too far apart, giving him a vaguely alien appearance.’
    • ‘Ghanaians do not make or use masks, but there are some funerary effigies in clay.’
    • ‘There are also some representations of fish and human masks.’
    1. 4.1 A person's face regarded as having set into a particular expression.
      ‘his face was a mask of rage’
      • ‘No more will I worry or hide behind the mask of anger or neutral emotions.’
      • ‘Cathy's face screws up into a mask of rage, and Emily gasps beneath her white-knuckled grip.’
      • ‘It may have been hidden under a mask of fear but it was there.’
      • ‘It wasn't the cold expression he was always showing in front of her but the mask of true and authentic fury.’
      • ‘Her beautiful face was twisted into a mask of rage and she was continually shouting obscenities at us in that terrible voice.’
      • ‘Ash's face finally went from a mask to a pained expression.’
      • ‘The man named Sephiroth faltered, watching her walk away, and his mask of rage fell into confusion.’
      • ‘She looked slightly aghast at his words, but any real emotion she hid behind a mask of silent fury.’
      • ‘If at any time he is stuck between a crowd of the opposite gender, he will give himself a mask of blank expression.’
      • ‘Slight anger crossed his face before he hid it under a mask of amusement.’
      • ‘The mask of anger is easier to show than the mask of hurt.’
      • ‘The old woman pulled her face into a mask of almost no expression at all.’
      • ‘His face wore a strange expression, a mask of anger and determination.’
      • ‘Her eyes were glowing white and her face was a hideous mask of rage.’
      • ‘Tom sighed slightly, his expression in its cold mask, not showing the annoyance he felt.’
    2. 4.2 A hollow model of a human head worn by ancient Greek and Roman actors.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘On the shield is the Bath Gorgon, a Medusa mask perhaps representing a water god.’
      • ‘In fact, on occasion her face looks like a mask out of some classical Greek tragedy - Wilde would probably have approved.’
    3. 4.3 The face or head of a fox or other game animal, as a trophy.
      • ‘A friend has left me a fox mask with an inscription to say that it was caught by the Hunt in 1936.’
  • 5A manner or expression that hides one's true character or feelings.

    ‘I let my mask of respectability slip’
    • ‘Being smartly dressed not only allows a man to be elegant and appear important but it also gives him a mask to hide behind and perform in.’
    • ‘Only at home did he remove the mask of the iron autocrat and become a warm personality.’
    • ‘This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners.’
    • ‘The carefree, friendly man returned, but I knew it was a mask to hide the turmoil.’
    • ‘He is certainly composed but beneath the mask of elegant good manners the man is a bundle of nerves.’
    • ‘When we don the mask of sanity and hide our true feelings from each other, we also avoid having to face up to our moral complicity in the bombings.’
    • ‘We all wear masks in real life, when dealing with others, and the internet provides us with a more effective one, as we project a chosen image through our computer.’
    • ‘I'm not going to stand behind the social mask and pretend that everything is OK when it's not.’
    • ‘Through this show I am hoping that people will realise that it is okay to be who we are, we don't have to wear masks and pretend to be people that we are not.’
    • ‘Personal conflict chipped away at the mask that hid her true persona from the world.’
    • ‘Of course, everyone wearing masks that hid their true intentions didn't help much.’
    • ‘Try as we might to pretend otherwise, the mask of polite discourse had been shattered.’
    • ‘At least the womenfolk didn't hide their feelings behind masks of stone.’
    • ‘Hidden beneath the mask of apathy, there is an unsuspected energy and a great human, moral and spiritual charge.’
    • ‘He manages to portray the sensitive man under the sadistic mask by tonal inflections and body language, admirably.’
    • ‘It helped me to escape my feelings, it was my mask, I could hide behind it.’
    • ‘By now, she knew she could no longer hide from her true feelings, donning a mask of self-denial.’
    • ‘But the offer is vetoed by Finn, who alone sees the ugly fascist behind The Man's smooth mask of respectability.’
    • ‘To me they were I realise now a mask to hide behind.’
    • ‘The best analogy I can think of is that I was looking for a mask to conceal my true feelings.’
    • ‘But behind all the masks, even camouflaged, he cannot hide from the truth.’
    • ‘The problem with him is he is a liberal who has put on the mask of moderation.’
    • ‘He was used to Kenny's mood swings and this enabled him to hide behind a mask of tranquillity.’
    • ‘Many of the characters within the play hide behind a mask of falseness.’
    pretence, semblance, veil, screen, front, false front, facade, veneer, blind, false colours, disguise, guise, concealment, cover, cover-up, cloak, camouflage
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  • 6Photography
    A piece of material such as card used to cover a part of an image that is not required when exposing a print.

    • ‘In this tutorial we will be focusing on how we can create a photo mask from a new document.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If a diffused edge is preferred on the image, the mask can be placed on top of the glass rather than under it.’
    • ‘The Unsharp Mask is an old photography trick that has become available to ‘the common man’ through the introduction of digital editing tools.’
  • 7Electronics
    A patterned metal film used in the manufacture of microcircuits to allow selective modification of the underlying material.

    • ‘The cells are doped with N type dopants by using the photo-resist regions as masks.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 8Entomology
    The enlarged labium of a dragonfly larva, which can be extended to seize prey.

    • ‘It's very dramatic as the dragonfly larva has an extraordinary labial mask mounted underneath its face - like a gigantically extended lower lip with claws on the end which come whizzing out and grab the bloodworm.’
    • ‘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'.’
    • ‘Dragonfly larvae possess a highly specialized mouthpart, known as the labial mask, which can be extended rapidly to grab prey such as small animals.’


[with object]
  • 1Cover (the face) with a mask.

    ‘he had been masked, bound, and abducted’
    • ‘He had a piece of dark material masking his face and was wearing a black, cotton casual jacket.’
    • ‘In the very front of the gym, a man in a black cloak stood at a podium, the hook masking his face.’
    • ‘The young Spellweaver could barely make out his face, which was masked by a full visor.’
    • ‘For example, masking a patient who is morbidly obese is difficult because of the need for high pressure to overcome the weight of the chest and abdomen when the patient is supine.’
    • ‘The cape was masking her face and hair colour and the horse was trotting along the street with little pace.’
    • ‘After it was settled, the fighters at the shrine removed the bandanas that had masked their faces and slipped away into the city's maze of alleyways.’
    • ‘Witnesses described seeing the prisoners handed to US agents whose faces were masked by hoods.’
    • ‘Black feathers sprout from her head and, like the bird, she is masked with bits of torn fabric bound around her eyes.’
    • ‘Their faces were masked by the thick helmets that enveloped their heads.’
    • ‘The rider's features couldn't be seen because of the large cloak masking its face.’
    • ‘On the video, the unknown man's face is masked with a scarf and sunglasses.’
    • ‘In some of the raids the man masked his face with dark sunglasses, a baseball cap, a hood and a newspaper.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He opened his eyes for he wished to see his face but his face too was masked like the other men but he knew this man wasn't his enemy.’
    • ‘A few masked homogeneous faces around her made it clear that it was no dream.’
    hide, conceal, disguise, cover up, obscure, screen, cloak, camouflage, veil, mantle, blanket, enshroud
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  • 2Conceal (something) from view.

    ‘the poplars masked a factory’
    • ‘It's the kind of ground that can remain soft even in winter, when early snows mask a far-from-frozen running surface.’
    • ‘And now… the shiny wooden floor, smart servery and coloured drapes masking the old roof lights all make for an attractive, modern appearance.’
    • ‘She opened her eyes to see a man's tall, slender frame filling the door, masked by shadows.’
    • ‘The bright blue of the river masked the pollution and it sparkled in the sunlight.’
    • ‘On their own, trellises are also a great way of softening an area or masking a drab concrete wall.’
    • ‘Trees masking cameras will be pruned to improve the view and community groups such as Homewatch will be developed.’
    • ‘The cellar door had masked what was an underground subway of some sort.’
    • ‘He could hardly hear the sound of her footsteps, and somehow, she masked her prints in the grass.’
    • ‘They could not see the anger etched on the man's face due to the shadows masking him.’
    • ‘Depending on design, they can mask undesirable sights or highlight attractive views.’
    • ‘They began their ascent again as he stepped back and let the shadows mask him.’
    • ‘This one was brick and stone laid with crawling ivy masking most of the surface area.’
    • ‘She masked herself from view as she went through a hallway and entered a large bright room.’
    • ‘His muscular frame, although masked by his black nightshirt, was still clearly visible.’
    • ‘The double doors were missing, a fine veil of rainwater masking the entryway.’
    • ‘Your GP can prescribe camouflage creams to mask disfigurement of the skin.’
    • ‘The mast rose up behind it, pointing to the sun above and masked only by dense shoals of damselfish, a fantastic sight.’
    • ‘Special camouflage makeup can mask most bruising that still remains.’
    • ‘Other than those tiny stands, the area in front of him was masked by a thick darkness.’
    • ‘As she draws close to the Sun she disappears from view in her helical setting, circling the Earth invisibly masked by the Sun's light.’
    hide, conceal, disguise, cover up, obscure, screen, cloak, camouflage, veil, mantle, blanket, enshroud
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 (of a taste, smell, etc.) prevent the perception of (another sensation)
      ‘brandy did not completely mask the bitter taste’
      • ‘It was made from crushed herbs, wild flowers and leaves, again hiding them from view, but also masking their scent.’
      • ‘The coffee in the kiosk there is always way too hot, a tactic often used to mask the flavour of cheap, nasty coffee.’
      • ‘Powdered GHB is colorless and odorless but has a salty taste that is often masked by mixing it in fruit punches.’
      • ‘The gustatory faults of a low-quality wine can be masked by serving it very cool.’
      • ‘Venezia's version was overly sweet and lemony, masking the rich flavour of mascarpone.’
      • ‘Adding water from home to the water at the show grounds may mask the smell and taste of the local water and make it more palatable to your horse.’
      • ‘The unpleasant salty or soapy taste may be masked in flavored or alcoholic beverages.’
      • ‘White noise was also presented over whole-ear headphones to mask completely any sounds made by the tactile stimuli.’
      • ‘Fat and oil sticks to and coats the tongue, enhancing perceptions of smoothness, but also masking and altering taste perceptions.’
      • ‘She sprayed herself with the deodorant in one of the shelves, and smiled, knowing the smell of sweat was at least masked by vanilla now.’
      • ‘As soon as he opened the arena door leading into the stable, nothing could mask that unmistakable smell.’
      • ‘With the alcohol flavor masking taste, there were no discernible differences between the study medication and placebo.’
      • ‘Cooks have been wielding spices for centuries, from preserving foods with them to masking smells and flavors in meats that were less than fresh.’
      • ‘The garlic wasn't strong enough to mask a slightly fishy flavour, but that didn't detract.’
      • ‘Some people object to its bitter taste, even masked with fruit flavoring.’
      • ‘She stood in full public view on the pavement and sprayed herself from top to bottom with the fake scent, masking one unpleasant smell with another, then shuffled off in the general direction of the tube station.’
      • ‘With every dish, I strive to achieve a balance of flavours, enhancing the individual tastes and textures of ingredients without masking or overpowering any of them.’
      • ‘Generally, the gut-rotting base wine should have been poured away long ago, and the spice is used to mask revolting flavours and aromas.’
      • ‘Instead, the smells of produce and horses were prevalent, masking every other odor, pleasant or not.’
      • ‘Complex in flavours and well balanced in terms of sweet and savoury as well as texture, the food never masks an ingredient.’
      hide, conceal, disguise, cover up, obscure, screen, cloak, camouflage, veil, mantle, blanket, enshroud
      View synonyms
  • 3Cover (an object or surface) so as to protect it during painting.

    ‘mask off doors and cupboards with sheets of plastic’
    • ‘The next morning we masked off the baseboards, doors, and windows with plastic and proceeded with staining.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I cleaned all the parts completely and prepared for masking.’
    matte, photomask, shadow mask, masking, masking tape
    View synonyms


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