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Alternative forms[edit]


An alteration of visor by confusion of the ending.



vizard (plural vizards)

  1. (archaic) A mask (cover for the face, used for disguise, protection, etc.)
    • 1589, George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie, Book I, Chapter 14,[1]
      [] one Roscius Gallus the most excellent player among the Romaines brought up these vizards, which we see at this day used, partly to supply the want of players, when there were moe parts than there were persons, or that it was not thought meet to trouble and pester princes chambers with too many folkes. Now by the chaunge of a vizard one man might play the king and the carter, the old nurse and the yong damsell, the marchant and the souldier or any other part he listed very conveniently.
    • c. 1594, William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act V, Scene 2,[2]
      There, then, that vizard, that superfluous case
      That hid the worse and show’d the better face.
    • 1827, Walter Scott, Chronicles of the Canongate, Introduction,[3]
      An actor on the Italian stage permitted at the Foire du St. Germain, in Paris, was renowned for the wild, venturous, and extravagant wit, the brilliant sallies and fortunate repartees, with which he prodigally seasoned the character of the party-coloured jester. Some critics, whose good-will towards a favourite performer was stronger than their judgment, took occasion to remonstrate with the successful actor on the subject of the grotesque vizard.
    • 1697, William Dampier, A New Voyage Round the World, Other Islands in the Gulf of Amapalla,[4]
      These salutations being ended, they all marched towards the church, for that is the place of all public meetings, and all plays and pastimes are acted there also; therefore in the churches belonging to Indian towns they have all sorts of vizards, and strange antick dresses both for men and women, and abundance of musical hautboys and strumstrums.
    • 1892, Arthur Conan Doyle, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,[5]
      He carried a broad-brimmed hat in his hand, while he wore across the upper part of his face, extending down past the cheekbones, a black vizard mask, which he had apparently adjusted that very moment, for his hand was still raised to it as he entered.
  2. (archaic) A visor (part of a helmet covering the face).
    • 1768, Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, Paris,[6]
      I walked up gravely to the window in my dusty black coat, and looking through the glass saw all the world in yellow, blue, and green, running at the ring of pleasure.—The old with broken lances, and in helmets which had lost their vizards;—the young in armour bright which shone like gold, beplumed with each gay feather of the east,—all,—all, tilting at it like fascinated knights in tournaments of yore for fame and love.—
  3. (archaic, figuratively) Outward appearance; pretense.
    • c. 1592, William Shakespeare, Richard III, Act II, Scene 2,[7]
      Oh, that deceit should steal such gentle shapes,
      And with a virtuous vizard hide foul guile!
    • 1645, John Milton, The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Book II, Chapter IV, p. 41,[8]
      And why should God enter covenant with a people to be holy, as the Command is holy, and just, and good, Rom. 7.12 and yet suffer an impure and treacherous dispence to mislead and betray them under the vizard of Law to a legitimate practise of uncleanness.
    • 1704, Jonathan Swift, A Tale of a Tub, Section XI,[9]
      In all revolutions of government, he would make his court for the office of hangman-general, and in the exercise of that dignity, wherein he was very dexterous, would make use of no other vizard than a long prayer.