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See also: mantel and Mantle


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From Middle English mantel, from Old English mæntel, mentel (sleeveless cloak), from Proto-West Germanic *mantil; later reinforced by Anglo-Norman mantel, both from Latin mantēllum (covering, cloak), diminutive of mantum (French manteau, Spanish manto), probably from Gaulish *mantos, *mantalos (trodden road), from Proto-Celtic *mantos, *mantlos, from Proto-Indo-European *menH- (tread, press together; crumble). Compare Icelandic möttull.



mantle (plural mantles)

  1. A piece of clothing somewhat like an open robe or cloak, especially that worn by Orthodox bishops. [from 9th c.]
    Coordinate term: (mantle worn by the pope) mantum
  2. (figuratively) A figurative garment representing authority or status, capable of affording protection.
    At the meeting, she finally assumed the mantle of leadership of the party.
    The movement strove to put women under the protective mantle of civil rights laws.
    • 2019 April 18, Madeleine Schwartz, “How Should a Millennial Be?”, in The New York Review[1], →ISSN:
      “The great millennial novelist”—the mantle has been thrust, by Boomers and Gen Xers alike, upon the Irish writer Sally Rooney, whose two carefully observed and gentle comedies of manners both appeared before her twenty-eighth birthday. With this mantle have come prizes and money. Nearly every review has mentioned at least the prizes.
  3. (figuratively) Anything that covers or conceals something else; a cloak. [from 9th c.]
  4. (malacology) The body wall of a mollusc, from which the shell is secreted. [from 15th c.]
    • 1990, Daniel L. Gilbert, William J. Adelman, John M. Arnold (editors), Squid as Experimental Animals, page 71:
      He grasps the female from slightly below about the mid-mantle region and positions himself so his arms are close to the opening of her mantle.
    • 2017, Danna Staaf, Squid Empire, ForeEdge, →ISBN, page 8:
      Molluscan bodies are broadly divided into two parts: a muscular foot and a shell-secreting mantle.
  5. (ornithology) The back of a bird together with the folded wings.
  6. The zone of hot gases around a flame.
  7. A gauzy fabric impregnated with metal nitrates, used in some kinds of gas and oil lamps and lanterns, which forms a rigid but fragile mesh of metal oxides when heated during initial use and then produces white light from the heat of the flame below it. (So called because it is hung above the lamp's flame like a mantel.) [from 19th c.]
  8. The outer wall and casing of a blast furnace, above the hearth.[1]
  9. A penstock for a water wheel.
  10. (anatomy) The cerebral cortex. [from 19th c.]
  11. (geology) The layer between the Earth's core and crust. [from 20th c.]
    • 2012, Chinle Miller, In Mesozoic Lands: The Mesozoic Geology of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Kindle edition:
      The crust (a mere 1% of the Earth's volume) is made of lighter melt products from the mantle.
  12. Alternative spelling of mantel (shelf above fireplace)
  13. (heraldry) A mantling.

Derived terms[edit]



mantle (third-person singular simple present mantles, present participle mantling, simple past and past participle mantled)

  1. (transitive) To cover or conceal (something); to cloak; to disguise.
    • 1610–1611 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene i]:
      As the morning steals upon the night, Melting the darkness; so their rising senses Begin to chace the ign'rant fumes, that mantle Their clearer reason.
    • 1610–1611 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene i]:
      I left them I' th' filthy mantled pool beyond your cell, There dancing up to th' chins.
    • 2019, Vansire (lyrics and music), “Metamodernity”, in Metamodernity:
      All beneath the pinkish sky from the wildfires / Which mantle the horizon line
  2. (intransitive) To become covered or concealed. (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  3. (intransitive) To spread like a mantle (especially of blood in the face and cheeks when a person flushes).
    • 1842, [anonymous collaborator of Letitia Elizabeth Landon], chapter XXXVII, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume II, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, page 171:
      [] —that the richest people in the world have the hardest hearts in it, and refuse to help their fellow-creatures, save through the medium of ostentation, and in return for value received?—that the highest and oldest nobility in Europe—the purest blood which ever mantled in the lovely cheek of virgin woman—is regularly exhibited in large bodies, under the protection of British matrons, policemen, and constables, at half-a-crown a head?
    • 1847, The Mirror Monthly Magazine, page 259:
      [] and then that coffee! what fragrance it diffused through the room — how the foaming hot cream mantled over it, making discovered country from whose bourne no Master Philip's teeth water, []
    • 1913, D[avid] H[erbert] Lawrence, “chapter 10”, in Sons and Lovers, London: Duckworth & Co. [], →OCLC:
      The blood still mantled below her ears; she bent her head in shame of her humility.
  4. To climb over or onto something.
  5. (falconry) The action of stretching out the wings to hide food.
  6. (falconry) The action of stretching a wing and the same side leg out to one side of the body.


  1. ^ Rossiter W[orthington] Raymond (1881) “Mantle”, in A Glossary of Mining and Metallurgical Terms. [], Easton, Pa.: [American] Institute [of Mining Engineers], [], →OCLC.

Further reading[edit]


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of mantel