Posted by TheFallen on August 23, 2002

In Reply to: Dismantle posted by Nancy K on August 23, 2002

: Has anyone heard the expression "dismantle" in regards to moving a mantle? Someone told me that when a family moved from a home, they took their mantle piece with them, thus "dismantle".

I think that your informant was either misinformed or making a play on words. The two words "dismantle" and "mantel" (to give it its more usual spelling - "mantle" is a variant) stem from two entirely different roots.

Dismantle comes from the old French as the following paste from the American Heritage Dictionary shows:-

Obsolete French desmanteler, to raze fortifications round a town, from Old French : des-, dis- + (em)manteler, to cover with a coat, shelter (ultimately from mantel, cloak).

Whereas mantel stems from middle English, according to the same source:-

Middle English mantel, as in mantiltre, beam over fireplace opening (perhaps from its use for drying wet clothing).