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!

  • 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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