Etymology
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mask (v.)

1560s, "to take part in a masquerade" (a sense now obsolete); 1580s as "to wear a mask," also "disguise (feelings, etc.) under an assumed outward show;" from mask (n.) and French masquer. Military sense of "conceal" (a battery, etc.) from the view of the enemy" is from 1706. Related: Masked; masking. Masking tape recorded from 1927; so called because it is used to block out certain surfaces before painting.

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mask (n.)

1530s, "a cover for the face (with openings for the eyes and mouth), a false face," from French masque "covering to hide or guard the face" (16c.), from Italian maschera, from Medieval Latin masca "mask, specter, nightmare," a word of uncertain origin.

It is perhaps from Arabic maskharah "buffoon, mockery," from sakhira "be mocked, ridiculed." Or it may come via Provençal mascarar, Catalan mascarar, Old French mascurer "to black (the face)," which is perhaps from a Germanic source akin to English mesh (q.v.). But it may be a Provençal word originally: Compare Occitan mascara "to blacken, darken," derived from mask- "black," which is held to be from a pre-Indo-European language, and Old Occitan masco "witch," surviving in dialects; in Beziers it means "dark cloud before the rain comes." [See Walther von Wartburg, "Französisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch: Eine Darstellung galloromanischen sprachschatzes"].

Figurative meaning "anything used or practiced for disguise or concealment" is by 1570s.

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gas-mask (n.)
1915, from (poison) gas (n.1) + mask (n.).
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unmask (v.)
1580s in figurative sense, c. 1600 in literal sense (transitive and intransitive), from un- (2) "reverse, opposite of" + mask (v.). Related: Unmasked; unmasking.
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mascara (n.)

"cosmetic for coloring eyebrows and eyelashes," originally used by actors, 1883, mascaro (modern form from 1922), from Spanish máscara "a stain; a mask," from same source as Italian maschera "mask" (see mask (v.)).

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masque (n.)

"masquerade, masked ball, festive entertainment in which participants wear a disguising costume," 1510s, from French masque; see mask (n.). It developed a special sense of "amateur theatrical performance" (1560s) in Elizabethan times, when such entertainments (originally performed in masks) were popular among the nobility.

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masquerade (n.)

1590s, "assembly of persons wearing masks and usually other disguises," from French mascarade or Spanish mascarada "masked party or dance," from Italian mascarata "a ball at which masks are worn," variant of mascherata "masquerade," from maschera (see mask (n.)).

Extended sense of "disguise in general, concealment or apparent change of identity by any means" is from 1660s; figurative sense of "false outward show" is from 1670s.

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mascot (n.)

"a talisman, charm, thing supposed to bring good luck to its possessor," also "person whose presence is supposed to be a cause of good fortune," 1881, from provincial French mascotte "sorcerer's charm, 'faerie friend,' good luck piece" (19c.), of uncertain origin, perhaps from or related to Provençal mascoto "sorcery, fetish" (a Narbonnese manuscript of 1233 has mascotto "procuress, enchantment, bewitchment in gambling"), from masco "witch," from Old Provençal masca, itself of unknown origin, perhaps from Medieval Latin masca "mask, specter, nightmare" (see mask (n.)).

Popularized by French composer Edmond Audran's 1880 comic operetta "La Mascotte," about a household "fairy" who gives luck to an Italian peasant, which was performed in a toned-down translation in England from fall 1881. In reference to animals (later costumed characters) representing sports teams, by 1889.

For the edification of readers not versed in baseball lore it should be stated that the mascot has become quite an important institution among the professional teams of America. He may be a boy possessed of some special attainment or physical peculiarity, or he may be a bull-pup with a prominent patch over his left eye. It matters not whether a mascot be brute or human, so long as his presence upon the players' bench insures a victory—in the minds of the players—to the team with which he has cast his fortunes and in whose favor he exercises the influence he is supposed to have with Dame Fortune. [Harry Clay Palmer, ed., "Athletic Sports in America, England, and Australia," New York, 1889]
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masquerade (v.)

1650s, "to wear a mask, to take part in a masquerade" (now archaic or obsolete), also transitive, "to cover with a mask or disguise;" from masquerade (n.). Related: Masqueraded; masquerader; masquerading.

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mummer (n.)

"one who performs in a mumming, actor in a dumb show," early 15c., probably a fusion of Old French momeur "mummer" (from Old French momer "mask oneself," from momon "mask") and Middle English mommen "to mutter, be silent," which is the source of mum (interjection). "[S]pecifically, in England, one of a company of persons who go from house to house at Christmas performing a kind of play, the subject being generally St. George and the Dragon, with sundry whimsical adjuncts" [Century Dictionary].

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