If humans tried hard enough, we could probably devise a language rich enough so that every word had a single meaning, separate from all other words, and they would all be pronounced distinctly from one another to avoid confusion. Unfortunately, whoever invented the languages currently in use apparently did not try as hard as we would’ve liked. English, like other languages, has many words which are homophones—similar in pronunciation, but distinct in meaning. Mantel and mantle are two such words. Even though they are both nouns, they refer to two different objects. Continue reading to find out whether you are trying to write about a mantle or mantel in your piece.
The word mantle originated from Old English mentel, from Latin mantellum ‘cloak’; reinforced in Middle English by Old French mantel .
Mantel as noun:
The word mantel is used as a noun in English language where it refers to a structure of wood or stone build around a fireplace, on which decorative items are often displayed.
The picture of us on the mantel is from the days when we were happy together.
The word mantel has no other senses. It always refers to the structure or shelf that surrounds a fireplace or hearth.
Mantle as noun:
The word mantle (ending with e) is also used as a noun in English language and it refers to a loose robe or cloak.
She was wrapped tightly in her mantle.
Mantle also means an important role or responsibility that passes from one person to another.
The second son has now assumed his father's mantle.
In geography, mantle is the region of the earth's interior between the crust and the core, believed to consist of hot, dense silicate rocks.
Magmas erupted at mid-ocean ridges are derived from the upper mantle.
Mantle as verb:
The word mantle is used as a verb too in English language where it means to cloak or envelop.
Heavy mists mantled the forested slopes.
Located on the top of Liberty Hill, the home … features an open living room and dining room with a fireplace set in a marble mantel. [San Francisco Chronicle]
The resort’s furniture, the wine cellar and the carved mantel over the fireplace in the bar were made on-site in his woodworking shop. [Montreal Gazette]
Your opinions that keeping ashes in an urn on the mantel seemed “creepy,” and scattering them in public places “slightly ghoulish,” were very strong. [letter to Daily Pilot]
Mantel or mantle:
Mantel and mantle are homophones, but their meanings are distinct. A mantle is a cloak or robe. A mantel is the structure surrounding a fireplace. Mantel and elm are both spelled with the letter sequence EL. Since elm is one type of wood that you might burn in a fireplace, you can use the relationship between these words to remember when to use mantel instead of mantle. If all else fails, you can always check this article again for a quick refresher.