Definitions

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

  • n. A dramatic entertainment, usually performed by masked players representing mythological or allegorical figures, that was popular in England in the 16th and early 17th centuries.
  • n. A dramatic verse composition written for such an entertainment.
  • n. See masquerade.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. (in 16th-17th Century England & Europe) A dramatic performance, often performed at court as a royal entertainment, consisting of dancing, dialogue, pantomime and song.
  • n. Words and music written for a masque.
  • n. A shortening of the word masquerade.
  • n. Archaic form of mask.
  • v. Archaic form of mask.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A mask; a masquerade.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • See mask.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a party of guests wearing costumes and masks

Etymologies

French; see mask.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Borrowing from French masque. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • When Britain first, at heavens's command,
    Arose from out the azure main,
    This was the charter of the land,
    And guardian angels sung this strain:
    "Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
    Britons never will be slaves."
    from Alfred: A Masque by James Thomson (1700-1748)

    September 25, 2009

  • Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Masque of the Red Death" was one of my favorites in school.

    September 18, 2009

  • A spectacular indoor performance combining poetic drama, music, dance, song, lavish costume and costly stage effects favored by European royalty in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Disguised members of the court played the roles of mythological characters and enacted simple allegorical plots. At the end of the performance, the cast would remove their masks and dance with members of the audience.

    See anti-masque.

    September 18, 2009