1. A cover, or partial cover, for the face, used for disguise or protection; as, a dancer's mask; a fencer's mask; a ball player's mask.

2. That which disguises; a pretext or subterfuge.

3. A festive entertainment of dancing or other diversions, where all wear masks; a masquerade; hence, a revel; a frolic; a delusive show. "This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask." (Milton)

4. A dramatic performance, formerly in vogue, in which the actors wore masks and represented mythical or allegorical characters.

5. A grotesque head or face, used to adorn keystones and other prominent parts, to spout water in fountains, and the like; called also mascaron.

6. In a permanent fortification, a redoubt which protects the caponiere. A screen for a battery.

7. <zoology> The lower lip of the larva of a dragon fly, modified so as to form a prehensile organ. Mask house, a house for masquerades.

Origin: F. Masque, LL. Masca, mascha, mascus; cf. Sp. & Pg. Mascara, It. Maschera; all fr. Ar. Maskharat buffoon, fool, pleasantry, anything ridiculous or mirthful, fr. Sakhira to ridicule, to laugh at. Cf. Masque, Masquerade.

(01 Mar 1998)

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