from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Public celebration of the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church and some Protestant churches.
  • noun The sacrament of the Eucharist.
  • noun 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.

  • noun Roman Catholic Church 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.
  • noun A similar ceremony offered by a number of Christian sects.
  • noun music A musical composition set to portions of the Mass.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[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.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word Mass.


  • Keith -- I'm from mass and I'm telling you that most people are already dismayed at how inept Patrick has been, and that there's no way Mass goes for Obama.

    Report: Kerry Endorsing Obama 2009

  • There would have been more at our 7.15am mass but the new Parish Priest has cancelled the 6.30am Mass on Holy Days of Obligation and moved the evening mass forward to 7.30pm.

    auntie joanna writes Joanna Bogle 2007

  • South Africa, as a matter of policy, would not sell or provide military equipment or technologies used in developing weapons of mass destruction to any country deemed to be posing a proliferation risk, the SA Council for the Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass

    ANC Daily News Briefing 2002

  • The continuing mass detentions, assassination of trade union activists and harassment of all sectors of the Mass


  • In other words, we have something which is to be described not as small or great but as the great-and-small: for it is at once a mass and a thing without magnitude, in the sense that it is the Matter on which Mass is based and that, as it changes from great to small and small to great, it traverses magnitude.

    The Six Enneads. Plotinus 1952

  • Thus the Mass at that time was called _Christ's Mass_, and the Box, _Christ's Mass Box_, or Money gathered against that time, that Masses might be made by the Priests to the Saints, to forgive the People the Debaucheries of that time; and from this, Servants had the Liberty to get Box-money, because they might be able to pay the Priest for his Masses, because _No Penny, No

    A Righte Merrie Christmasse The Story of Christ-Tide John Ashton

  • The priest uses this at the washing of hands before mass, before distributing Communion outside of Mass, and before administering baptism.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 9: Laprade-Mass Liturgy 1840-1916 1913

  • The use of incense in the conventual mass on certain solemnities, even though the Mass is said and not sung, is another liturgical custom (recently sanctioned by the Holy See) peculiar to their order.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 13: Revelation-Stock 1840-1916 1913

  • Here again _Ceremonies_ of the mass are stated, but if the Platform taught that the Mass itself is inculcated in the Confession, believers in the Mass would, _a fortiori_, have also been mentioned as excluded.

    American Lutheranism Vindicated; or, Examination of the Lutheran Symbols, on Certain Disputed Topics Including a Reply to the Plea of Rev. W. J. Mann 1836

  • Iran resumes mass trial of opposition activists, protesters charged in post-election turmoil Mass trial continues of Iran opposition protestersTEHRAN, Iran - Iran resumed Tuesday the mass trial of opposition activists and protesters charged with rioting and plotting to topple the ruling Islamic system through a "velvet revolution" following the country's disputed presidential election.

    Gaea Times (by Simple Thoughts) Breaking News and incisive views 24/7 2009


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.