from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Public celebration of the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church and some Protestant churches.
- n. The sacrament of the Eucharist.
- n. A musical setting of certain parts of the Mass, especially the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. The principal liturgical service of the Church, including a scripture service and a eucharistic service, which includes the consecration and oblation (offering) of the host and wine. One of the seven sacraments.
- n. A similar ceremony offered by a number of Christian sects.
- n. A musical composition set to portions of the Mass.
Middle English masse, from Old English mæsse, from Vulgar Latin *messa, from Late Latin missa, from Latin, feminine past participle of mittere, to send away, dismiss.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English masse, messe, Old English mæsse. Late Latin missa, from Latin mittere, missum, to send, dismiss: compare French messe. In the ancient churches, the public services at which the catechumens were permitted to be present were called missa catechumenorum, ending with the reading of the Gospel. Then they were dismissed with these words: "Ite, missa est", the congregation is dismissed. After that the sacrifice proper began. At its close the same words were said to those who remained. So the word gave the name of Mass to the sacrifice in the Catholic Church. Compare Christmas, Lammas, Mess a dish, Missal (Wiktionary)