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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

"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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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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