A mantle is a word for something that blankets over something else, like the loose cloak worn by Little Red Riding Hood or the layer of earth between the crust and core.

Mantle is something that envelops and covers, like a tree covered in a mantle of snow. The Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra said, “Blessings on him who invented sleep, the mantle that covers all human thoughts.” Here, sleep is described as a mantle blanketing over the mind. Mantel is a variation of mantle, but it very specifically describes the shelf above a fireplace.

Definitions of mantle
  1. noun
    a sleeveless garment like a cloak but shorter
    synonyms: cape
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    a short mantle or cape fastened at the shoulder; worn by men in ancient Greece
    mantelet, mantilla
    short cape worn by women
    a sleeveless cape that is lined or trimmed with fur
    a woman's fur shoulder cape with hanging ends; often consisting of the whole fur of a fox or marten
    type of:
    a loose outer garment
  2. noun
    shelf that projects from wall above fireplace
    synonyms: chimneypiece, mantel, mantelpiece, mantlepiece
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    type of:
    a support that consists of a horizontal surface for holding objects
  3. noun
    anything that covers
    synonyms: blanket
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    type of:
    cover, covering, natural covering
    a natural object that covers or envelops
  4. noun
    the cloak as a symbol of authority
    “place the mantle of authority on younger shoulders”
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    type of:
    an arbitrary sign (written or printed) that has acquired a conventional significance
  5. noun
    hanging cloth used as a blind (especially for a window)
    synonyms: curtain, drape, drapery, pall
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    drop, drop cloth, drop curtain
    a curtain that can be lowered and raised onto a stage from the flies; often used as background scenery
    a curtain of fabric draped and bound at intervals to form graceful curves
    a drapery that covers the front of an altar
    a heavy curtain hung across a doorway
    shower curtain
    a curtain that keeps water from splashing out of the shower area
    theater curtain, theatre curtain
    a hanging cloth that conceals the stage from the view of the audience; rises or parts at the beginning and descends or closes between acts and at the end of a performance
    safety curtain
    a fireproof theater curtain to be dropped in case of fire
    a theater drop that appears opaque until it is lit from behind
    type of:
    blind, screen
    a protective covering that keeps things out or hinders sight
    (usually plural) the instrumentalities (furniture and appliances and other movable accessories including curtains and rugs) that make a home (or other area) livable
  6. noun
    the layer of the earth between the crust and the core
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    type of:
    a relatively thin sheetlike expanse or region lying over or under another
  7. noun
    (zoology) a protective layer of epidermis in mollusks or brachiopods that secretes a substance forming the shell
    synonyms: pallium
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    type of:
    cuticle, epidermis
    the outer layer of the skin covering the exterior body surface of vertebrates
  8. verb
    spread over a surface, like a mantle
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    type of:
    diffuse, fan out, spread, spread out
    move outward
  9. verb
    cover like a mantle
    “The ivy mantles the building”
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    type of:
    cover, spread over
    form a cover over
Commonly confused words

mantle / mantel

A mantle is a covering, like a robe. But a mantel is a ledge over a fireplace. If Little Red Riding Hood tosses her cloak on the shelf above her fireplace, she has a mantle on the mantel.

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