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What is the correct word for the thing that gangsters have on their head during hold ups?

balaclava

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1  
Maybe you ought to describe the thing you have in mind. Otherwise you're going to have people running through all possible types of headgear. –  Robusto Sep 5 '11 at 15:03
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2 Answers

Balaclava.

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Who's downvoting these answers and why? Ski mask and balaclava are synonyms for the headwear that I think the OP is asking for. –  Peter Shor Sep 5 '11 at 15:04
    
nah, balaclavas don't have a mouth opening. OP's now posted a pic with a mouth opening, so balaclava is wrong. –  user12549 Sep 5 '11 at 15:13
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I wouldn't be so quick to run yourself down. Here are pictures labelled "balaclava", many of which have mouth openings. Also, I don't recall ever hearing a newsreader in the UK refer to rioters/looters wearing "ski masks", but they use "balaclava" quite often (although just "hooded" or "masked" are probably more common anyway). So I'm upvoting yours as the more standard expression, even if your distinction is theoretically correct. –  FumbleFingers Sep 5 '11 at 16:31
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I believe you're thinking of a ski mask, a (usually black) tight cloth mask that covers the whole head except for eyes and possibly mouth. Balaclava is also used, but ski mask is by far the more common term in American English.

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Who's downvoting these answers and why? Ski mask and balaclava are synonyms for the headwear that I think the OP is asking for. –  Peter Shor Sep 5 '11 at 15:04
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@Peter Shor: Agreed. Now that the OP has added a picture, this is obviously the right answer. +1. –  Robusto Sep 5 '11 at 15:16
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@Peter Shor: I downvoted the other answer because I didn't think it was right, and because it's just one word with some padding characters. –  Jon Purdy Sep 5 '11 at 15:42
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it's a single word request. why would the answer require more than one word? –  user12549 Sep 5 '11 at 15:51
    
@myqlarson: Forgive me for giving a different psychic answer than yours. In any case, ski mask is unequivocally the American term. I'll edit to add. –  Jon Purdy Sep 5 '11 at 17:40
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protected by RegDwigнt Apr 19 '12 at 15:31

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