AskDefine | Define cloak

Dictionary Definition



1 anything that covers or conceals
2 a loose outer garment v : hide under a false appearance; "He masked his disappointment" [syn: dissemble, mask]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A long outer garment worn over the shoulders, a cape, often with a hood.
  2. A blanket-like covering, often metaphorical.
    Night hid her movements with its cloak of darkness.

Derived terms


garment worn over the shoulders
  • Czech: plášť
  • German: Umhang
  • Greek: κάπα
  • Irish: brat
  • Serbian: plašt , ogrtač
blanket-like covering, often metaphorical
  • Czech: plášť
  • German: Deckmantel


  1. To cover as with a cloak.
  2. To render invisible via futuristic technology.

Derived terms


to cover as with a cloak
  • German: verhüllen

Extensive Definition

A cloak is a type of loose garment that is worn over indoor clothing and serves the same purpose as an overcoat—it protects the wearer from the cold, rain or wind for example, or it may form part of a fashionable outfit or uniform. Cloaks are as old as human history; there has nearly always been some form of long outer garment used to protect people from the weather. Over time cloaks have changed their look to match current styles and textile needs.
Cloaks generally fasten at the neck or over the shoulder, vary in length, from ankle all the way up to the hip, mid-calf being the normal length. They may have an attached hood, and may cover and fasten down the front, in which case they have holes or slits for the hands to pass through. However, cloaks are almost always sleeveless.

Opera cloak

In full evening dress in the Western countries, ladies and gentlemen frequently use the cloak as a fashion statement, or to protect the fine fabrics of eveningwear from the elements, especially where a coat would crush—or hide—the garment. Opera cloaks are made of quality materials such as wool or cashmere, velvet and satin.
Ladies may wear a long (over the shoulders or to ankles) cloak usually called a cape, or a full-length cloak. Gentlemen wear an ankle- or full-length cloak. Formal cloaks often have expensive, coloured linings and trimmings such as silk, satin, velvet and fur.

In literature and the arts

Cloaks are a staple garment in the fantasy genre, due to the popularity of medieval settings. They are also usually associated with witches, wizards and vampires . Such cloaks are often magical. For example, they may grant the person wearing it invisibility as in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling or the "jubba cloak" in Frank Herbert's Dune. Alternatively, they may reflect magical projectiles, as the "cloak of magic resistance" in NetHack. In addition, the magical hide armor that Hercules made for himself from the skin of the Nemean Lion, at the end of Hercules' first labor, might also be seen as an early idea of a magical cloak. This latter was notable because it was said to be impervious to all cutting weapons and impact weapons.
Figuratively, a cloak may thus be anything that disguises or conceals something. In many science fiction worlds such as Starcraft and Star Trek, there are cloaking devices, which provide a way to avoid detection.
Because they keep a person hidden, the phrase cloak and dagger has come to refer to espionage and secretive crimes: it suggests murder from hidden sources. "Cloak and dagger" stories are thus mystery, detective, and crime stories of this atmosphere.
In the Star Wars universe several Jedi wear cloaks usually in varying shades of brown, blue, or sometimes black.
Many superheroes, such as Batman and Superman, wear cloaks or capes as part of their costume.


  • Ashelford, Jane: The Art of Dress: Clothing and Society 1500-1914, Abrams, 1996. ISBN 0-8109-6317-5
  • Baumgarten, Linda: What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America, Yale University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-300-09580-5
  • Payne, Blanche: History of Costume from the Ancient Egyptians to the Twentieth Century, Harper & Row, 1965. No ISBN for this edition; ASIN B0006BMNFS
  • Picken, Mary Brooks: The Fashion Dictionary, Funk and Wagnalls, 1957. (1973 edition ISBN 0-308-10052-2)
cloak in Danish: Kåbe
cloak in German: Umhang
cloak in Spanish: Manto (indumentaria)
cloak in Persian: شنل
cloak in French: Cape (vêtement)
cloak in Italian: Mantello (indumento)
cloak in Dutch: Mantel (kledingstuk)
cloak in Swedish: Mantel

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

alibi, apology, apply to, arm, armor, becloud, befog, blanket, bless, blind, block, bonnet, boot, breech, camouflage, canopy, cap, cape, champion, clothe, cloud, coat, coif, color, compass about, conceal, concealment, cope, copyright, cover, cover story, cover up, cover-up, coverage, covering, covert, coverture, cowl, cowling, curtain, cushion, defend, device, disguise, dissemble, dissimulate, distract attention from, drape, drapery, dress up, eclipse, ensconce, enshroud, ensure, envelop, excuse, facade, face, feint, fence, fend, film, frock, front, gloss, gloss over, gown, guarantee, guard, guise, handle, hanging, harbor, hat, haven, hide, hood, housing, insure, jacket, keep, keep from harm, keep under cover, lame excuse, lay on, lay over, locus standi, make safe, mantle, mask, muffle, nestle, obduce, obfuscate, obscure, occult, ostensible motive, overcoat, overlay, overspread, pall, patent, police, poncho, poor excuse, pretense, pretension, pretext, protect, protestation, public motive, put on, put-off, refuge, register, ride shotgun for, robe, safeguard, screen, scum, secure, semblance, shade, sham, shelter, shield, shirt, shoe, show, shroud, slur over, smoke screen, sock, spread over, stalking-horse, stocking, stratagem, subterfuge, superimpose, superpose, trick, underwrite, varnish, veil, veneer, vestment, whitewash, wrap
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