Printable Version
Pronunciation: dis-mænt-êl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To take apart, disassemble, break down. 2. To divest of clothing, covering, or the like. 3. To unfurnish, remove furniture or equipment, especially before scrapping.

Notes: This word may be spelled mantel, just like the Old French word. In mantelpiece it must be spelled this way. It comes with an action noun, dismantlement, and a personal noun, dismantler. Both participles, the present, dismantling, and the past, dismantled, serve as adjectives.

In Play: Dismantle literally means "to take apart": "When Louis got his new bicycle, he immediately dismantled it to see how it works." Even take apart has its figurative uses: "If everyone quit eating meat, it would dismantle the global food apparatus at its foundation."

Word History: Today's Good Word was snatched from Old French desmanteler "to raze fortifications", literally "strip off a cloak", from des- "off, away" + manteler "to cloak", from mantel "cloak" (today manteau "coat, overcoat)". The origin of mantel was either some Celtic word or Latin mantele "napkin, towel", which came to mean in Late Latin "tablecloth". Although no evidence can be found of anyone wrapping themselves in tablecloths, since later meanings referred to outer garments without sleeves, it makes some sense. Mantele seems related to manus "hand" in Latin, inherited from PIE man- "hand", source also of Cornish manek "glove". But this word journeyed farthest through the Romance languages, like French main, Italian and Spanish mano, and Romanian mână. (Now a big "thank-you" for our old South African friend Chris Stewart for finding something interesting in today's Good Word and sharing it.)

Dr. Goodword,

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