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I know that mantle has many different meanings...


  • 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


  • 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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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.

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

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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