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I am somewhat confused in regards to the verbs cacher and masquer. Both of them mean to hide in English, but I believe it depends on what context they are used in.

Looking through usages of the word, I see mostly masquer being used. Examples include:

  • Masquer les éléments sélectionnés (Windows Explorer)
  • Réseau masqué (Windows)
  • Masquer les paramètres avancés... (Google Chrome)
  • Masquer la section (Facebook)

However when I type hide into Google Translate and Bing Translator, cacher is the first word that comes up. To me, it seems that masquer is "to mask, to hide visually", whereas cacher means "to conceal, to store away".

What are the differences in meaning? Examples to provide context would be highly appreciated.

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I'd say the intent? – Knu Nov 15 '13 at 3:12
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Although cacher can usually be used in constructions similar to masquer, the reverse is not quite true, because masquer has an additional semantic or metaphoric implication of hiding by covering up with or behind something else, whereas cacher also encompass the idea of hiding somewhere, which masquer cannot be used for.

In the informatics domain, both it and hide carry a meaning that they never (nor did cacher) did previously: "make invisible". I don't believe there is any strong semantic reason for one to be chosen over the other, it's one of those usages that just... happen, so to say.

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Well, “cacher” often has the sense that you don’t want what your « cacher » to be found. Moreover, there is a risk of confusion with “cache” as in fast duplicate memory. – Édouard Nov 15 '13 at 10:40

Pratiquement aujourd'hui :

« Cacher » met l'accent sur le résultat qui est de garder un secret son synonyme littéraire est « dissimuler ».

Alors que « masquer » est plus neutre/professionnel, car met l'accent sur l'action : poser un masque. La raison n'importe pas.

Un réseau masqué est une façon neutre de dire qu'un masque a été posé. Dans le but de cacher/dissimuler le réseau !

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"Masquer" is to "hide" something by masking or covering it up.

"Cacher" is to "hide" something by "secreting" it in a "hiding place."

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I'm not sure my explanation is semantically correct, but here is the difference for me :

  • Masquer means to hide, but the person you are hiding it for, is perfectly aware that the thing is here, it's just not visible for him/her

Example: Masquer son visage : everyone know it's here, but you can't see it.

  • Cacher means to hide, but the person you are hiding it for is not aware that the thing is here. You don't want him/her to find it.

Example: Cacher un trésor : you hide it, and you don't want people to find it.


So in your browser configuration, you use masquer les paramètres avancés, because there is a button that say montrer les paramètres avancés, so you know the advanced parameters are there. They are just hidden for ergonomical convenience and not to confuse users. But you want people to be able to find them.

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