Mantle and mantel are homophones; they sound the same but have different meanings. Let's take a quick at what they mean and attempt to remember the difference with a memory aid.
Mantle refers to either a literal garment or a figurative cloak of authority (like wearing a mantle of leadership). It can also refer to something that covers something else or to the inner core of the Earth found below its crust.
A mantel is the shelf that sits above a fireplace.
I've racked my brain (yes, it's racked, not wracked) trying to devise a memory aid to help writers remember the difference between these two words. Here's what I've come up with:
mantel — el, remember it's elevated above the fireplace.
mantle — I couldn't think of a very good mnemonic for this one. My suggestion: Imagine you are at a party and put on your coat to leave early. This should help you to remember that a mantle is (by one definition) a cloak or garment. At any rate, it may be sufficient to simply learn the first one and remember the other meanings all apply to mantle.
Have you been tripped up by these two words? Do you have a better memory aid to share for remembering the difference between them? Are you troubled by other homophones? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.
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