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I know that mantle has many different meanings...

Noun:

  • a garment (loose, sleeveless cloak/cape)
  • something that covers, envelops, or conceals
  • the part of the Earth between the crust and the core
  • part of a shell in mollusks/brachiopods
  • a wooden/stone frame around the opening of a fireplace

Verb:

  • to spread or cover a surface
  • to blush
  • to spread the wings and tail (of a hawk or falcon) over food

So how did the word dismantle *(to disassemble/pull down; to deprive of defenses)* come about? One would think that they are opposites!

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I'm not sure why it isn't an opposite -- mantle is clothing, dismantle is taking the "covering" off something –  simchona Jul 11 '12 at 19:48
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closed as general reference by Daniel, tchrist, FumbleFingers, kiamlaluno, Bravo Jul 12 '12 at 3:42

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1 Answer

Per Etymonline, it comes from Middle French (roughly the period from 1340 to 1611):

1570s, from M.Fr. desmanteler: "to tear down the walls of a fortress," lit. "strip of a cloak," from des- "off, away" (see dis-) + manteler "to cloak" (see mantle).

Related: Dismantled; dismantling.

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