'Mantle' vs 'Mantel': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on August 5, 2023

Do you need to know the difference between 'mantel' vs. 'mantle?' I can help!

Here is a quick answer: 

  • 'Mantle' is a noun or verb for a cloak or overcoat worn over someone's clothes and a name for an upper portion of the earth under the crust. 
  • 'Mantel' is a noun for a stone, brick, wood, or ornamental frame or finish around a fireplace. 

The above explanation is just a brief overview. There is much more to learn about these terms. So, keep reading!

What is the Difference Between 'Mantle' vs. 'Mantel?'

'Mantle' and 'mantel' are both nouns that sound the same, but they have different spellings and meanings. So, the terms are homophones.

Homophones often confuse writers and English learners because they sound the same. However, these terms have different definitions.

  • You cannot use them interchangeably. So, it is important to learn the ways you use each.

The first word has many meanings, while the second is specific. So, you only use 'mantel' to refer to the shelf above a fireplace.

Origin of 'Mantle' vs. 'Mantel'

'Mantle' is a term used for the outer shell of several objects. The word 'mantel' is Middle English and was derived from the former term, 'mantle,' which was Anglo-French.

Definition of 'Mantle': What Does 'Mantle' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'mantle' is a noun that means:

  • A loose, sleeveless cloak or garment worn over one's clothes
  • Something that covers or envelops something
  • A fold or pair of lobes on the body of a mollusk that contains secretion glands
  • An external wall that lines a barnacle
  • The casing of a blast furnace located above the hearth
  • An internal casing where something is heated
  • A bird's upper back

It can also be a verb defined as:

  • To cover with a cloak
  • To be covered with a coating
  • To spread a layer over a surface
  • Show emotion or blush

Synonyms of 'Mantle'

Synonyms of mantle include:

  • Cloak
  • Coat
  • Shawl
  • Cape
  • Wrap
  • Cowl
  • Poncho
  • Veil
  • Blanket
  • Shroud
  • Robe
  • Curtain
  • Cover
  • Disguise
  • Envelop
  • Enclose
  • Camouflage
  • Overlay

Definition of 'Mantel': What Does 'Mantel' Mean?

The second term, 'mantel' is defined as a noun that means:

  • A beam, stone, or decorative masonry above a fireplace, which is often used to display items
  • A shelf adorning a fireplace

Synonyms of 'Mantel'

The second spelling is a very specific term. So, there are no synonyms.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Mantle' vs. 'Mantel'

Here is a guide for pronouncing 'mantle' vs. 'mantel.'

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'mantle':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'mantel':


As I mentioned these terms are homophones. They have the same pronunciation but different spellings.

When and How to Use 'Mantle' vs. 'Mantel'

You learned the definitions, spellings, and pronunciations of 'mantle' vs. 'mantel.' So, let's look at when and how to use each.

  • Use 'mantel' in reference to the shelf above a fireplace.

As an example, I might say:

I have some of my favorite things displayed on my mantel, including art glass pieces that were my great grandma's.

  •  Use 'mantle' to refer to an overcoat or cloak.

For example, you could say:

A mantle would look fantastic over your outfit, and it would keep you warm.

  • Use 'mantle' when you are speaking about the part of the earth that is directly below the crust.

So, you might hear someone say:

The mantel is between the earth's crust and core. 

  • Use 'mantle' if you are writing about the anatomy of a mollusk or barnacle.

For example, you could say:

If you look carefully under the shell, you can see the mantel, which contains secretion glands. 

  • Use 'mantle' as a verb to say that you are covering something.

As an example, you might say:

The kids are going to be shocked when they wake up! We are going to mantel the entire yard in the snow. 

  • Use 'mantle' metaphorically to refer to a role.

For example, you could say:

The mantle was a heavy burden because of the expectations that came along with it.

Sample Sentences Using 'Mantle' vs. 'Mantel'


  • Please hang your mantle in the hall closet or on the coat rack in the hallway.
  • Scientists believe the earth's mantle could be an untapped source of oil.
  • Mantle her with that thick blanket to keep her warm.
  • Did you see that man's mantle? He definitely had flair, but he looked like Dracula with that thing on.
  • Maybe you should wear the outfit without the mantle. It is a bit over the top.
  • Our science teacher showed us the tiny mantle of the snail.


  • The mantel is an excellent place to display family photos. However, it might not be the best place for your self-portrait.
  • I love the antique mantel in my home. It was imported from Italy in the late 1800s.
  • That mantel is filthy. You should sand and repaint it a brighter color. It would really improve this room.
  • You need to be careful about putting candles and other flammables on the mantel.
  • Our mantel is a work in progress. We started building it a few months ago, but we haven't quite finished.

A Final Recap of the Difference Between 'Mantle' vs. 'Mantel'

Wow! We covered a ton of information about these terms. So, let's do a quick recap of the difference between 'mantle' vs. 'mantel': 

  • 'Mantle' is a noun that means a cover or overcoat or a portion of the earth that is between the crust and the core. 
  • 'Mantle' is also a verb that means to cover or coat something. 
  • 'Mantel' is a noun that is only defined as the shelf above a fireplace. 

Even after learning the difference between these words, they can be challenging to keep straight. So, if you ever question which to use, you can always return to this post to review this lesson.

You can also visit the confusing words section here to learn about other English terms that people commonly misuse. Each guide contains definitions, grammar rules, usage tips, examples, and pronunciations.

So, whether you are learning English as a second language or interested in improving your writing skills, they are an excellent resource.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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