Definition of mass noun in US English:

mass noun


  • 1A noun denoting something that cannot be counted (e.g., a substance or quality), in English usually a noun that lacks a plural in ordinary usage and is not used with the indefinite article, e.g., luggage, china, happiness.

    Contrasted with count noun
    • ‘And I also wonder what happens when you have a noun that doesn't need a determiner at all, for example mass nouns such as water, or plural nouns.’
    • ‘At the same time, their language does have a distinction between count and mass nouns, so that there is the equivalent of the English difference between " { many / * much foreigners } " and " { * many/much manioc meal’.’
    • ‘For example, Mandarin's usage of mass nouns predisposes its discourse to take a more holistic approach to the world than say, English, which demarcates objects more readily.’
    • ‘Beware of anyone who pluralizes ‘literature’, which is already a mass noun.’
    • ‘When used in a generic sense, only mass nouns and plural count nouns are able to occur without a determiner or quantifier: Water is colourless, Groceries are expensive, Dogs make good companions, * Dog makes a good companion.’
    1. 1.1 A noun denoting something that normally cannot be counted but that may be countable when it refers to different units or types, e.g., coffee, bread (I drank some coffee, I ordered two coffees; we ate some bread, we bought several different breads).
      • ‘In the last chapter I largely overlooked the conceptual differences between count and mass nouns.’


mass noun

/ˈmæs ˌnaʊn//ˈmas ˌnoun/