Tuesday, February 07, 2017
The word mantle and its many meanings came up on the program recently. It originated with the Latin word mantellum, a cloak. One way or another, the divergent meanings of mantle all include the idea of something that encloses or protects. Here’s a rundown of the meanings that are not obsolete.
· a protective garment or blanket
· a guise or pretense
· a position of authority or leadership
· in crustaceans, a layer of covering epidermal tissue
· in birds, the plumage of the back and the folded wings
· in mammals, the layer of striated muscle below the skin
· the scum formed on fermenting liquids
· the bloom of algae that forms on stagnant ponds
· the mesh covering used to contain a flame in a propane lantern
· the region of the earth’s interior between the crust and the core
Mantel, the piece of timber or stone supporting the masonry above a fireplace, now has a different spelling, but originally it was spelled mantle and came from the same Latin word that meant a cloak.
Finally, dismantle – to take something apart – started out meaning to strip a cloak right off a man’s back.
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