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The word "mask" appeared in English in the 1530s, from Middle French masque "covering to hide or guard the face", derived in turn from Italian maschera, from Medieval Latin masca "mask, specter, nightmare". This word is of uncertain origin, perhaps from Arabic maskharah مَسْخَرَۃٌ "buffoon", from the verb sakhira "to ridicule". However, it may also come from Provençal mascarar "to black (the face)" (or the related Catalan mascarar, Old French mascurer). This in turn is of uncertain origin — perhaps from a Germanic source akin to English "mesh", but perhaps from mask- "black", a borrowing from a pre-Indo-European language. One German author claims the word "mask" is originally derived from the Spanish más que la cara (literally, "more than the face" or "added face"), which evolved to "máscara", while the Arabic "maskharat" - referring to the buffoonery which is possible only by disguising the face - would be based on these Spanish roots. Other related forms are Hebrew masecha= "mask"; Arabic maskhara مَسْخَرَ = "he ridiculed, he mocked", masakha مَسَخَ = "he transfomed" (transitive).

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