Mask vs. Masque

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Mask and masque are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words mask and masque, the word origin of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

A mask is a device that covers or partially covers one’s face. A mask may be worn to disguise one’s identity for criminal purposes, for recreation, or as entertainment. The word mask is also used figuratively to mean something that conceals a person like a cosmetic. Mask may also mean to conceal a particular trait that a person has or a person’s true personality or motives. Mask is used as a noun or a verb, related words are masks, masked, masking. The word mask is derived from the Middle French word masque, meaning to protect or hide one’s face.

A masque is a specific type of entertainment that was popular in the English court in the 1500s and 1600s. A masque involved singing, dancing, and acting on an elaborate stage set. Though professional actors were hired to perform in the masque, members of the court often appeared in the production wearing a mask. Today, the word masque may refer to this form of entertainment, a verse written for this type of entertainment, or a masquerade. Another popular use of the word masque has arisen fairly recently to mean a particular type of beauty treatment involving applying clay to one’s face. The word masque is also derived from the Middle French word, masque, and is only used as a noun.


‘The Masked Singer’: Who Was Under the Penguin Mask? (The Hollywood Reporter)

Frederick police have released new details in the case of a man who wore a costume-style mask and demanded employees place cash in an orange plastic pumpkin bucket during a bank robbery on Halloween. (The Frederick News Post)

“He wore a mask of one thing, but actually what was going on behind the scenes was that he was attentive to her because he was trying to get as much information about her as possible,” Richards said. (Oxygen Magazine)

Special events include Masque and Poetry with Ginny Lowe Connors, June 29 and July 6, 3 p.m.; and Masque and Music with Nekita Waller, CT State Troubadour: July 5, 7-9 p.m. (The Register Citizen)

Thankfully, everyone’s favorite affordable skin-care brand is here to rectify that with The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque, a clay-based treatment that clocks in at just $12. (Allure Magazine)

Enjoyed reading about these homophones? Check out some others we covered: