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People in masquerade (sense 2) at the Carnival of Venice in Venice, Italy, in 2015

The noun is borrowed from Middle French mascarade, masquarade, masquerade (modern French mascarade (masquerade, masque; farce)), and its etymon Italian mascherata (masquerade), from maschera (mask) + -ata. Maschera is derived from Medieval Latin masca (mask): see further there. The English word is cognate with Late Latin masquarata, Portuguese mascarada, Spanish mascarada.[1]

The verb is derived from the noun.[2]



masquerade (plural masquerades) (also attributively)

  1. An assembly or party of people wearing (usually elaborate or fanciful) masks and costumes, and amusing themselves with dancing, conversation, or other diversions.
    Synonym: (obsolete) masque
    I was invited to the masquerade party at their home.
    • 1714, Alexander Pope, “The Rape of the Lock”, in The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, volume I, London: [] W[illiam] Bowyer, for Bernard Lintot, [], published 1717, OCLC 43265629, canto I, page 125:
      What guards the purity of melting Maids, / In courtly Balls and midnight Maſquerades, / Safe from the treach'rous friend, and daring ſpark, / The glance by day, the whiſper in the dark; / [...] / 'Tis but their Sylph, the wiſe Celeſtials know, / Tho' Honour is the word with Men below.
  2. The act of wearing a mask or dressing up in a costume for, or as if for, a masquerade ball.
  3. (figuratively) An act of living under false pretenses; a concealment of something by a false or unreal show; a disguise, a pretence; also, a pretentious display.
  4. (figuratively) An assembly of varied, often fanciful, things.
  5. (fandom slang) A cosplay event at which costumed attendees perform skits.
  6. (obsolete) A dramatic performance by actors in masks; a mask or masque.
  7. (obsolete, rare) A Spanish entertainment or military exercise in which squadrons of horses charge at each other, the riders fighting with bucklers and canes.

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]


masquerade (third-person singular simple present masquerades, present participle masquerading, simple past and past participle masqueraded)

  1. (intransitive) To take part in a masquerade; to assemble in masks and costumes; (loosely) to wear a disguise.
    I’m going to masquerade as the wikipede. What are you going to dress up as?
  2. (intransitive, figuratively) To pass off as a different person or a person with qualities that one does not possess; also, to make a pretentious show of being what one is not.
    He masqueraded as my friend until the truth finally came out.
    • 2018 July 25, A. A. Dowd, “Fallout may be the Most Breathlessly Intense Mission: Impossible Adventure Yet”, in The A.V. Club[1], archived from the original on 31 July 2018:
      Ethan Hunt, the human missile of American intelligence that Tom Cruise has been popping back in to play for more than 20 years now, is masquerading as a mysterious terrorist, the perfectly named John Lark, to buy back some plutonium he’s lost to a cabal of doomsday extremists.
  3. (transitive, rare) To conceal (someone) with, or as if with, a mask; to disguise.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ masquerade, n. and adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2000; “masquerade, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  2. ^ masquerade, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2000; “masquerade, v.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

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