Here we have a trio of words that sound the same (at least in American English) but mean very different things: medal, meddle, and mettle.
A medal is a disc made of metal with an inscription or image. It is generally used as an award or a commemoration of an event:
Maplewood Officers Receive Medal Of Valor
Special Olympics duo wins gold medal in golf
To meddle is to interfere with someone or something:
Belarus will not let any other country meddle in its December presidential election.
Politicians meddle with existing taxation arrangements at their peril.
Finally, mettle is a quality or qualities that help a person in a difficult situation. Those qualities might include courage, ardor, and stamina:
Madison native tests his mettle in "Hell's Kitchen"
Test of mettle: How the Steelers can win without Roethlisberger
If you don't speak American English, you might be wondering why mettle makes this list. In American English, when a t appears in an unstressed syllable between two vowels—or between a vowel and an l, as is the case here—that t is said with a flap of the tongue similar to how we say d. Linguists call it a "medial flap." The same thing happens in betting, metal, noted, writing and many other words.
A medal is an award for some contest or achievement. You might win a medal for coming in third place at the cupcake baking championship.Continue reading...
To meddle is to interfere. You can meddle in someone else's affairs, and you can meddle with someone else's things. Either way, you’re messing with someone else’s stuff and she probably doesn’t like it.Continue reading...
Mettle is the courage to carry on. If someone wants to "test your mettle," they want to see if you have the heart to follow through when the going gets tough.Continue reading...