Main meanings of mass in English

: mass1Mass2


Pronunciation /mas/

See synonyms for mass

Translate mass into Spanish


  • 1A large body of matter with no definite shape.

    ‘the sun broke out from behind a mass of clouds’
    • ‘At the opposite end of what passed for the main street of the village, a group of the attackers had gathered, a mass of dark shapes and forms.’
    • ‘The townspeople moved as quickly as they could to get back to their homes, and the main street was just a mass of dark forms running and fleeing.’
    • ‘The sky was a dome of darkness over their heads, the stars blotted out by a mass of thick, dark clouds.’
    • ‘Saffron saw a mass of shapes growing near in the fore viewport.’
    • ‘It was some sort of creature made from what can only be described as pure darkness, its body a mass of swirling shadow.’
    • ‘He looked forward, and saw a mass of dark shadows moving in the same direction he was, only slower, and the shadows were all armed.’
    • ‘She looked ridiculous with a mass of dark red hair jutting out in awkward directions.’
    • ‘Suddenly a figure formed and it was like a floating mass, air shaped like a body.’
    • ‘The bats, in what looked like a solid mass of bodies, were releasing their toe-hold and dropping into flight.’
    • ‘The storm spun a mass of dark clouds across the sky.’
    • ‘A mass of striking silhouettes in shades of reds, yellows and whites can give the effect of a living, growing sculpture.’
    • ‘As soon as I was able to see again, I noticed the silver car making its way up the driveway, trailing a mass of dust behind it.’
    • ‘Words blurred together into a mass of sound, as Izzy looked at the woman beside her, slumped over pain and tiredness being etched into her very being.’
    • ‘Everything was swirling together into a mass of blackness, shot through with bolts of red, green and gold.’
    • ‘Venus is covered in a mass of clouds which are thought to be a couple of miles thick and made up of sulphuric acid.’
    pile, heap, stack, clump, cloud, bunch, bundle, lump
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Any of the main portions in a painting or drawing that each have some unity in colour, lighting, or some other quality.
      ‘the masterly distribution of masses’
      • ‘The solid background of the Byzantine mosaic forms the most obvious colour mass, against which the figures in a scene are set.’
      • ‘His golden glows and ghostly, bluish lights articulate masses more elemental than any particular subject in nature.’
      • ‘Her textured masses never seem to be simply formalist constructions, even when viewers don't know her history.’
      • ‘That delicacy tempers the dynamic of the mass of reddest orange, which tapers rapidly from the lower left corner on a trajectory to the upper right.’
      • ‘The looming mass might be a storm, nightfall or pollution; in any case, the effect is undeniably foreboding.’
  • 2A large number of people or objects crowded together.

    ‘ a mass of cyclists’
    • ‘From this elevated angle, the crowd looked like a mass of glowing angels doing some sort of celestial dance.’
    • ‘He grabbed two wires and then pressed them together, sending a mass of sparks all over the engine.’
    • ‘A mass of runners swarmed the roads for one of the towns' biggest yearly events.’
    • ‘When he was fully in the door, a mass of people came flooding out of the doorways in the small entrance hall.’
    • ‘A mass of anti-war protesters packed the streets of London last Saturday.’
    • ‘The train station was crowded with the usual mass of commuters going to work along with a horde of kids going to school.’
    • ‘Is your garden a mass of plants growing cottage style, all close together with fabulous scents, colors and textures?’
    • ‘The troops are a mass of people who have joined the army behind this operation.’
    • ‘I turn back to the mass of people crowding around me.’
    • ‘The canteen was getting more and more cramped by the second and I found myself having to bump and nudge my way through the mass of students crowded in front of the exit.’
    • ‘The next thing was the mass of people that crowded between him and that door, and the way they all seemed to move together like waves.’
    • ‘Mia spoke as she moved past the mass of people that crowded the streets of the market square.’
    • ‘A mass of doctors and nurses come swarming into the room.’
    • ‘His thoughts were interrupted by a mass of soldiers and at least two carriages driving past.’
    • ‘Beneath the swirling gray clouds a mass of sharply-peaked rooftops jutted up like a range of mountains.’
    • ‘We push through a mass of bodies, eyes locked forwards, until the front is within sight.’
    • ‘From where I was seated, it looked like a mass of writhing bodies, drinks sloshing around as people carelessly pushed through the crowd.’
    • ‘The prisoners hurried to the gate in a mass of thin bodies.’
    • ‘She remembered the days when people would crowd around the doors and bustle off in a mass of closely-packed bodies.’
    • ‘The small pane of glass was filled with a mass of dark, dangerous shadows, every last one of them clamouring to get inside.’
    large number, abundance, profusion, multitude, group, crowd, mob, rabble, horde, barrage, throng, huddle, host, troop, army, herd, flock, drove, swarm, pack, press, crush, mountain, flood
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1A large amount of material.
      ‘ a mass of conflicting evidence’
      • ‘Sue now provides this, making use of a mass of hitherto unused material.’
      • ‘The editor has a mass of material from which the text is now extracted.’
      • ‘It is not only encyclopaedias, dictionaries, and libraries that create the illusion of a semblance of order from a mass of chaotic and random materials.’
      • ‘If not already scared away by the price, most undergraduates will be confused and overwhelmed by the mass of material and the lack of background information.’
      • ‘First, he feared that the mass of material which had accumulated during the patient's lifetime would be so great that the treatment might go on indefinitely.’
      • ‘Facing these two challenges head on, he has done a first rate job of sifting through a huge mass of material and making sense of it.’
      • ‘My object, dear friend, in making this small selection from a great mass of material, has been twofold.’
      • ‘An astounding mass of material is already available on computer screens.’
      • ‘Critical investigation has brought to light a voluminous mass of material on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama.’
      • ‘The fresh mass of the clipped material was then recorded.’
      • ‘I agree that the reason is expressed very briefly, when compared with the mass of material which the respondents placed before him.’
      • ‘On those occasions when they did so, they saw what seemed to be a barbarous mass of material lacking all grammatical order.’
      • ‘He did so with an ability, clarity and, given the mass of material, brevity for which we both thank and commend him.’
      • ‘The point is that they are few and far between, and effectively swamped by the vast mass of deceptive material.’
      • ‘Doing the best I can from the mass of material and figures now accumulated I must now arrive at figures for each of the insurance years.’
      • ‘These are presented for the first time in this volume, and while the mass of material is unwieldy, it is also fascinating.’
      • ‘But behind that impressive mass of material lay a plan that was deeply flawed.’
      • ‘Our facility for this mass of material is our own search engine instantly available, and you can print whatever you wish to retain.’
      • ‘When I have the time to look into this mass of material properly, I'll feature it here in summary.’
      • ‘I do not propose even to summarise let alone to attempt to analyse this vast mass of material.’
    2. 2.2masses informal A large quantity or amount of something.
      • ‘we get masses of homework’
      • ‘The survey was set up to record masses of quantitative data, as well as qualitative data in the form of written comments.’
      • ‘Wonderful scenery, plenty of walks and masses of peace and quiet.’
      • ‘He said it was clear that the people needed information which engaged their interest rather than masses of general data.’
      • ‘Bloggers generate masses of unedited web content each day about life, politics and everything.’
      • ‘I've done masses and masses and masses of washing.’
      • ‘I needed there to be a narrative I could extract from the masses and masses of paper, even if it was an invented narrative.’
      • ‘I mean, there are not masses and masses of students of history, but the few that we do get are extremely bright.’
      • ‘He made masses and masses of commercials, well into the 1970s, which I didn't realise.’
      • ‘It has masses of room for five adults, a cavernous load capacity, and a refreshingly airy, well-equipped interior.’
      • ‘A high workload and masses of paperwork have been blamed for scores of dentists going private over the last decade.’
      • ‘The book company, however, is focusing on accelerating its refurbishment programme, rather than opening masses of new stores.’
      • ‘I was a target for masses of charities because of the publicity surrounding my single, and I think I may have been over-generous.’
      • ‘Certainly the book is generating acres of newsprint and there are masses of links on the web.’
      • ‘Our nurses will join families in hymn singing or prayer at the bedside, or make masses of toasted sandwiches for relatives who would rather not leave.’
      • ‘‘It's a kind of childcare which we know masses of people have been using, but they don't get any help for it,’ she said.’
      • ‘As I travel to Woolwich to work, I notice masses of litter.’
      • ‘The site offers the viewer masses of information on the Westport of today but it also deals with queries visitors have about any aspect of life in the area in the past.’
      • ‘From the galleries masses of holly and ivy hung majestically while around the altar the theme of this Holy Night was carried through in the red and green.’
      • ‘Significant numbers of farmers have quit the business and those remaining have been weighed down by masses of new legislation and paper work.’
      • ‘The idea is not to make masses of money but to experience what it is like to run a successful business.’
  • 3the mass ofThe majority of.

    ‘the great mass of the population had little interest in the project’
    • ‘There is considerable disparity of wealth between a small elite and the mass of the population.’
    • ‘While shooting was hated by the mass of the rural population, and the Game Laws universally flouted, they took a benign and active interest in the hunt.’
    • ‘Many student activists continued to advocate an electoral boycott, a campaign which has fallen on deaf ears among the mass of the population.’
    • ‘Even now the mass of the population is alienated from these institutions and the political elite that inhabits them.’
    • ‘In the ebb and flow of the election results one thing remains constant, however: the increasing gulf between all official parties and the mass of the population.’
    • ‘But although the Assembly had been regarded with high expectations in 1917, once it had been dispersed the mass of the population had abandoned it as an ideal.’
    • ‘The true function of war was to ‘subordinate the mass of the population to exploitation at the hands of the dominant class.’’
    • ‘He rules on behalf of an international financial oligarchy, whose political interests are diametrically opposed to that of the mass of the population.’
    • ‘This inevitably gives rise to a hostility to the democratic rights of the mass of the population, which are seen as obstacles to the accumulation of even more wealth and power.’
    • ‘The scale of the protest exposed the rift between the government and the mass of the population and underscored the leader's domestic political isolation.’
    • ‘Therefore, we oppose the establishment parties, which have increasingly distanced themselves from the mass of the population.’
    • ‘Several students asked about the character of a socialist society and how it would be possible to involve the mass of the population in economic planning.’
    • ‘All this has produced explosive social contradictions, including a vast chasm between the wealthy elites and the mass of the population.’
    • ‘This cannot be reconciled with democracy and prosperity for the mass of the population.’
    • ‘The urbanization of the mass of the population and the decline of rural areas not surprisingly had profound social consequences for all classes of the population.’
    • ‘The flagrant flaunting of wealth amidst the dire poverty of the mass of the population is helping fuel social and political opposition.’
    • ‘Your vagueness, however, is understandable given the present state of affairs for the mass of the population.’
    • ‘For the mass of the population they were not only salesmen but bringers of news, street entertainers, quacks, and sorcerers.’
    • ‘The impact on the mass of the population has been especially severe.’
    • ‘An unbridgeable gulf has opened up between the traditional parties and the mass of the population.’
    majority, larger number, larger part, greater number, greater part, best part, better part, major part, most, bulk, main body, preponderance, almost all, lion's share
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1the massesThe ordinary people.
      ‘seaside towns that catered for the masses’
      • ‘The revolutionaries have failed so far to mobilize and unite the masses and pious middle classes of most countries.’
      • ‘And the masses also defy all caste and communal barriers on such crucial junctions and vote to restore social and national health.’
      • ‘They consider themselves as part of the masses, the subjugated working class, but they wouldn't use those words.’
      • ‘The move has horrified the nation's literati in a country where serious literature is a serious business and popular with the masses.’
      • ‘The danger of nationalism is that it is often used as a lever for power, both by the elites in search of authority and the masses in search of community.’
      • ‘Your immense popularity with the masses helped ensure your power.’
      • ‘One way the Boys have appealed to the masses is by interpreting popular songs and giving them their own twist.’
      • ‘The public mood - of both the elite and the masses - changed in a most radical way.’
      • ‘But the multimillionaire actor remained hugely popular among the masses and widely respected in showbiz circle.’
      • ‘Over the weeks, I've detected a stark difference in the quality of the news delivered to the elite and to the masses.’
      • ‘Power has been, at best, exercised by a class against the masses.’
      • ‘The gulf between the ruling elite and the masses became obscene.’
      • ‘In a totalitarian regime or even an oligarchy we have a ruler, or a group of elites ruling over the masses.’
      • ‘Something important is being brought to light here about the difference between the political classes and the masses.’
      • ‘Books are a source of information that is considered by some to be an outdated way to communicate with the masses.’
      • ‘Since the game is popular among the masses, it attracts sponsors by the dozen.’
      • ‘They have instead been the connecting thread and the medium of communication for the masses.’
      • ‘It has a strong content, which will be liked by both the classes and the masses.’
      • ‘He was in the crowd and he celebrated with the masses.’
      the common people, the populace, the public, the people, the multitude, the rank and file, the crowd, the commonalty, the commonality, the third estate, the plebeians
      View synonyms
  • 4Physics
    mass noun The quantity of matter which a body contains, as measured by its acceleration under a given force or by the force exerted on it by a gravitational field.

    ‘stellar objects of intermediate mass’
    • ‘Every object with mass exerts a gravitational force.’
    • ‘An object with mass creates a gravitational field around itself.’
    • ‘The problem is that gravitons carry mass and energy, which are the source of the gravitational field in the first place.’
    • ‘Passive gravitational mass is a measure of the strength of an object's interaction with the gravitational field.’
    • ‘In fact, the inertial mass of any object exactly equals the gravitational mass of the object.’
    1. 4.1(in general use) weight.
      ‘multiply the mass of the payload by the distance travelled’
      • ‘We calculated percentage fat mass by dividing fat mass by total weight.’
      • ‘This device measures the atomic weight, or mass, as well as the prevalence of various atoms or molecules, and it scans the components one at a time.’
      • ‘To calculate the moles of nitrogen in each sample, core segment dry mass was multiplied by its nitrogen percentage and divided by nitrogen's atomic weight.’
      • ‘If a space ship could reduce its size and mass, much less fuel would be needed to travel the vast distances between star systems.’
      • ‘He also noted that the force attracting two objects increased or decreased in a ratio of their combined sizes or mass.’
      weight, size, magnitude, bulk, dimensions, capacity, density, extent, scope, greatness, bigness, hugeness, amount, matter
      View synonyms


  • Involving or affecting large numbers of people or things.

    ‘the film has mass appeal’
    • ‘a mass exodus of refugees’
    • ‘Here conventionality is a contributing factor to the novel's success; these are universal themes with mass appeal.’
    • ‘Nearly forty people were in hospital today and a further 50 are believed to be affected by a mass outbreak of food poisoning.’
    • ‘Uncertain as to where to go or what to do, they eventually become part of the mass exodus of refugees fleeing for their very lives.’
    • ‘In 1998 and again this year mass coral bleaching affected more than 50% of the Great Barrier Reef.’
    • ‘Carnivores, species at the top of the food chain, are in danger of a mass extinction that would affect all species within their ecosystems.’
    • ‘Moreover, if the government is subsidizing something that consumers do not really want, one would think that the subsidy would lack mass appeal.’
    • ‘There will be no mass exodus or mass influx in the near future.’
    • ‘What I found is that there is youth radio, and there is entertaining radio, also known as commercial, corporate, or mass appeal radio.’
    • ‘You need a careful balance between trying to get more money in and ensuring the sport has mass appeal.’
    • ‘She termed this century as the ‘age of design,’ and said she hopes image consulting will gain mass appeal in the future.’
    • ‘Coalition officials investigated 70 and confirm 40 as mass graves.’
    • ‘What is certain is that mass media left unique war records for the present age to interpret.’
    • ‘Road builders and motorist groups want more asphalt, environmentalists want more mass transit.’
    • ‘Other units carried out mass killings on a similar, if not greater, scale.’
    • ‘Problems arise, however, when mass violence is involved.’
    • ‘Seeing only the degradation of their culture reflected in the mass media has a profound impact on Native youth.’
    • ‘I suspect it's true to a huge and growing degree in the mass market as well.’
    • ‘When was the last time photography attracted quite so much thoughtful coverage in the mass media?’
    • ‘Those involved in the mass murder on Tuesday must be held accountable for their actions.’
    • ‘The real story is quite different from the one presented so far in the mass media.’
    wholesale, universal, widespread, general, large-scale, extensive, pandemic
    View synonyms


  • Assemble or cause to assemble into a single body or mass.

    with object ‘both countries began massing troops in the region’
    • ‘clouds massed heavily on the horizon’
    • ‘In many areas mine warfare is replacing massed armies facing each other across vast plains.’
    • ‘In both cases, you have a mobile army massing and maneuvering against static defensive positions.’
    • ‘During this performance the assembled pipers and drummers will play together in one massed pipe band.’
    • ‘They announce they're massing troops, seemingly unaware that this just makes for one rich target as opposed to many.’
    • ‘It had been almost two years since he had first joined the Rebel troops massing to overthrow the monarchy.’
    • ‘Troops were massed outside the safe haven to retake the zone on his signal.’
    • ‘The countries have massed about one million troops at their frontier.’
    • ‘They gained experience in massing men and equipment in decisive sectors.’
    • ‘We were running short of time, and ominous clouds were massing in the sky, but we couldn't resist stepping inside the old church.’
    • ‘Scuba diving in the afternoon, we noticed the cloud massing like a thunderous frown over the island and the water began to churn around us.’
    • ‘In these buildings stores were massed, porters collected and equipment unpacked and tested.’
    • ‘Faces massed at windows and parapets all around the courtyard as the small convoy drew to a halt.’
    • ‘Today the city is illuminated softly from behind grey clouds wafted inland from the Irish Sea and massing menacingly to the north.’
    • ‘I've never had groupies massing outside my house before.’
    • ‘He could already hear people massing on the other side; he knew he didn't have much time to come up with a plan.’
    • ‘White bass heavy with eggs are massing in the currents of the Pineywoods rivers and tributaries.’
    • ‘By the time we reached Basingstoke, we were already massed together for our own safety.’
    • ‘Dark clouds had massed overhead, intermittent flashes of lightning jumping between them.’
    • ‘Still, hordes of rivals are massing at the gate.’
    • ‘A thousand kilometers to the west, their armies were massing at the frontier.’
    accumulate, assemble, amass, collect, gather, gather together, draw together, join together
    View synonyms


    be a mass of
    • Be completely covered with.

      ‘his face was a mass of bruises’
      • ‘For the longest time, the cover appeared to be a mass of abstract marks, then suddenly it came clear and two schooners at sea appeared out of the scratches.’
      • ‘Her hair is torn out, her face is a mass of bruises and her neck is almost as thick as that of a horse.’
      • ‘His shoulders, back, chest, and upper arms were a mass of bruises, some of them accompanied by bleeding scrapes and cuts.’
      • ‘It didn't help his composure any that her face and body were a mass of bruises, and her left arm was in a sling more for pain relief than support.’
      • ‘His head still throbbed and his entire body was a mass of scratches and bruises, but inside, he felt remarkably well.’
      • ‘He was a mass of bruises and crusted blood, but he was breathing.’
      • ‘They had kept him in jail for three nights and had beaten him so that his face was a mass of bruises.’
      • ‘His face was a mass of cuts and bruises and he looked as though he had been badly beaten.’
      • ‘The young woman's face was a mass of terrible scars and sores.’
      • ‘Her back was a mass of open wounds.’
    in mass
    • As a body.

      ‘men advancing in mass’
      • ‘If you look closely at the canvas itself you can see so much beauty in the leaves of green plants, individually and in mass.’
      • ‘Here in Doha more than 80 countries came together and negotiated in mass.’
      • ‘The seeds that James' dad got us is doing very well, even the peas that were from the previous season are coming up in mass.’
      • ‘Vandalism is less obvious when trees are planted in mass, as in woodland planting, as any damage is not so apparent.’
      • ‘Was the valour of men in mass as worthy of note as the solitary champion?’
    in the mass
    • As a whole.

      ‘her affection for humanity in the mass’
      • ‘Contemporary Americans, in the mass, seem to have lost sight of, and connection with, the past.’
      • ‘There had to be minds to perceive ideas, and since only a small minority of our ideas were the products of our own fancy, they had in the mass to have some external cause.’
      • ‘Democracies work well, and my hypothesis is that this is because people in the mass have a different kind of intelligence at work.’


Late Middle English from Old French masse, from Latin massa, from Greek maza ‘barley cake’; perhaps related to massein ‘knead’.

Main meanings of Mass in English

: mass1Mass2


Pronunciation /mas/

See synonyms for Mass

Translate Mass into Spanish


  • 1The celebration of the Christian Eucharist, especially in the Roman Catholic Church.

    ‘we went to Mass’
    • ‘Ideal Christmas gifts will be on sale next weekend at all Masses in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.’
    • ‘The Masses and other ceremonies in the Church of the Most Holy Rosary this Christmas had full congregations.’
    • ‘Preparations for First Holy Communion began at all Masses in the parish church last Sunday week.’
    • ‘There were very large congregations at all the Masses in the Church of the Holy Family over the Christmas season.’
    • ‘On last weekend they sold Christmas decorations and wreaths outside the church after Masses.’
    • ‘He celebrated his first Mass in the church where he was baptised and confirmed.’
    • ‘Is it any wonder that we now have to lock up churches after morning Masses, even in the quiet rural countryside.’
    • ‘As Summer time commenced recently all evening Masses in the Church of Saint Michael and Saint Mary will be held at 8 p.m. for the duration of Summer time.’
    • ‘In the Cluster there are 10 churches, 19 Masses celebrated at weekends and only seven priests.’
    • ‘The blessing will take as usual after the Sunday morning Masses in both Churches.’
    • ‘At her request, there were no flowers at her funeral Mass.’
    • ‘All Christmas Services and Masses were well attended again this year at all three churches in the parish.’
    • ‘The daily Mass during the Christmas period in the parish Church will be at 11 am.’
    • ‘His picture cannot be displayed publicly in any church or oratory and Masses cannot be offered in his honour.’
    • ‘The debate over the reform of the rite of the Mass following the Second Vatican Council goes on and on.’
    Eucharist, Holy Communion, Communion, the Lord's Supper
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A particular celebration of the Eucharist.
      • ‘he pontificated at three Christmas Masses’
      Eucharist, Holy Communion, Communion, the Lord's Supper
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2A musical setting of parts of the liturgy used in the Mass.
      ‘Bach's B minor Mass’
      • ‘The main work was the beautiful setting in G Minor of The Mass by Vaughan Williams.’
      • ‘The concert ended with a Mass by Bellini in which the organist, choir and soloists gave a magnificent performance.’
      • ‘They also played an excerpt from his Mass in C minor, with its haunting Kyrie.’
      • ‘It has been said that the bulk of Mozart's sacred music - he composed nearly 20 Masses alone - was written mostly to please paymasters.’
      • ‘One especially powerful instance occurs in the Credo movement of the Mass for Four Voices.’


    hear Mass
    • Attend a celebration of the Mass without taking communion (especially as the former usual practice of lay Catholics).

      ‘They were forbidden to hear Mass, forced instead to attend Anglican services, with steep fines for those recusants who persistently refused.’
      • ‘In keeping with the custom of the time, the parishioners had heard Mass earlier that Sunday morning, and were attending the later services to complete their devotions for the day.’
      • ‘Henry, mirroring the behaviour of Ethelred, heard Mass three times.’
      • ‘There is one in a small church in York which I have visited where lepers were allowed to hear Mass.’
      • ‘The radios allow the housebound to hear Mass, services and other community items which are read out in the church.’


Old English mæsse, from ecclesiastical Latin missa ‘dismissal, prayer at the conclusion of a liturgy, liturgy, mass’, from Latin miss- ‘dismissed’, from mittere ‘send, dismiss’.