Tuesday, December 18, 2007


For years, I've explained to folks that I am a "content" editor, not a copy editor.

I make lots of typos and feel on shaky ground when it comes to the finer points of punctuation.

However, when it comes to spelling, I have a pet peeve.

It's the use of mantle instead of mantel. When I was editing magazines, even writers known for their firm grasp of English usage would sometimes err on this one.

We once photographed a home with a huge professionally painted sign above the fireplace mantel. Mantel was spelled wrong.

Another time, I visited a store named XXXX MANTLES. The shop stocked everything needed to decorate your mantel.

This past week, while touring holiday decorating posts, I noticed dozens of instances when bloggers used the word mantle, when they should have used mantel.

Please don't feel badly, if you're one of the guilty parties. You're in good company.

And, please don't hate me. I don't usually seize the mantle of authority when it comes to the English language. Just consider this post a Public Service Announcement.

In keeping with my Mosaic Madness theme. I have illustrated this post with a gorgeous fireplace surround (below the mantel) created by Brenda Sabbatino.

*** BLOG DU JOUR ***

Have you seen the mantel of the month at Enchanted Treasures?


Natasha Burns said...

Hi Barbara, I had no idea about that! I often make typos but am very fussy about spelling and punctuation (spelling bee finalist from school days here). We've never been taught the word 'mantel' ever! I had to go look it up thinking it was the American way of spelling 'mantle'!
LOL! Americans do chop letters out of English words like 'colour' and change 's' to 'z' as in 'organise' so I just assumed it was the American version!!! So thanks for the lesson because I sure am an unknowing culprit of the 'mantel' error!
My pet spelling peeve is the wrong spelling of 'divine', when I see 'devine' it drives me nuts! Oh and 'your' instead of 'you're' or 'their' when it should be 'they're', or 'to' instead of 'too'. Oh I could go on for hours but I'll stop, I am learning to just 'let it go' and not think about it when I see these things now. It's hard but I'll get there! : )

Cottage Magpie said...

Wow. And I thought I was a good writer. I didn't know that one! Yipes! (Quickly doing search and replace....)
~Angela :-)

GeorgiaPeachez said...

Oh my gosh, I had to rush back and look at my post about my wreaths and whew! I had spelled mantel correctly. My pet spelling peeve is your vs you're! And I hate typos in the daily newspaper, shameful! xo, suzy

Gail McCormack said...

Thanks Barbara, I often wondered about that one myself, all cleared up now!

Joy said...

It's so funny that you wrote this because as a Canadian I found myself struggling with which one to use the other day! I ended up changing it back and forth and finally decided the mantel was the way to go!

Naturegirl said...

Certainly food for thought! I always use spell check but at times even the odd words slips by! My dear H. always reads before I post and alwys finds a n error.
I am delighted to
stop by and am familiar with your printed publications!I sure hope YOU don't find errors in my writing! EEKS! :)NG

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

Well, I am probably one of the people who spelled it mantle...In fact I know I have every time I used the word. Isn't that funny! I too have pet peeves...their vs there, your instead of you're.

One of the bad, grammer issue I fight with constantly is ending my sentence with "at". For example, "Where are you at?" Instead of "Where are you?"

By the way - LOVE the mantel! I have always wanted to mosaic a mantel. I just keep waiting until I know it is the home I am going to stay in. I would hate to do all that work and sell the home, only to have a non mosaic buyer rip it out :-).

Judy said...

OMG Barbara! I feel so honored you visited my new blog - your comments meant so much to me. Also, I'm a guilty party on the "mantel" thing and I feel really dumb because usually I'm a pretty good speller...I have to be because I'm a legal assistant - thank God for spell checker!!!

Jen r. said...

Barbara, you crack me up! I didn't know that. I always mix up effect and affect too! I once had an editor look at a book I wrote, and it came back with so much red pen I shouldv'e gotten her a gift card to Office Max!
If you get a chance, stop by and visit my home tour tomorrow. Love to have you!
Jen R

Garden_Antqs said...

Barbara, I must say that after reading this post, knowing I had used "mantel" several times in one of my posts, I had to go and check. Ya! I passed your test, I spelled it correctly!!

Shabby in Pink Boutique said...

That is so funny. I recently retiled my fireplace and I wanted to do it in mosaic. My silly husband would not let me. MEN! I just love the fireplace.. How I wish I went with the mosaic.lol

NAME: CIELO said...

Hi Barbara… how funny! I have to admit I'm one of the guilty parties thankyouverymuch... Yes, my mistake has been corrected thanks to you; however, in defense of all the guilty souls out there in blogland, I will put a little word in their defense.

The word “mantle” has multiple definitions, being “mantle” a variant of “mantel”. Synonyms are: mantelpiece, mantle, mantelpiece, chimneypiece. There is more. A “mantel” is a shelf that projects from the wall above the fireplace, it is also a loose sleeveless coat worn over outer garments; a cloak, something that covers, envelops, or conceals. For example: “On a summer night... a mantle of dust hangs over the gravel roads”. It could also be the outer covering of a wall, a zone of hot gases around a flame, a device in gas lamps consisting of a sheath of threads that gives off brilliant illumination when heated by the flame... In Anatomy, is the cerebral cortex, in Geology the layer of the earth between the crust and the core, the outer wall and casing of a blast furnace above the hearth, the wings, shoulder feathers, and back of a bird when differently colored from the rest of the body, and according to Zoology, is a fold or pair of folds of the body wall that lines the shell and secretes the substance that forms the shell in mollusks and brachiopods, and also the soft outer wall lining the shell of a tunicate or barnacle.

But wait... there is more: For many people around the world (including me), the word “mantel” (spelled and pronounced just like that) is nothing more than a tablecloth. Yes, a common tablecloth! "man-tel"...

So you see, either “mantle” or “mantel” are valid words… and comes Christmas, there is no better place than our mantel or mantle to hang our Christmas stockings... (blink)



Hi, I'm Kathryn Bechen. said...

Love the way you called it a Public Service Announcement! :) Kathryn

karlascottage.typepad.com said...

You made me go back and check my holiday posting, and Yay! I got it right.

Cindy Roberts said...

Exquisite mosaic mantel! My sister and I came up with a way to remember how to spell mantel correctly. We want to "tell" everyone about our mantel. Works for me everytime!

Cowboys & Custard said...

Oh dear Barbara..
I went into a panic reading about the grammatical use of the word Mantel... I have written two posts recently with using both the 'Mantel and 'Mantle' spelling. Usually I am a stickler for spelling and puctuation but I am not immune from making mistakes..
Thank you for correcting me .. I wondered whether it was a language derivative of the word Mantel.. as U.S and U.K spellings do differ.
I am now off to look at Enchanted Treasures Mantel.

Pear Street Studios said...

According to the American Heritage dictionary it can be used either way... probably not quite as common though.

man·tel also man·tle (mān'tl) Pronunciation Key
An ornamental facing around a fireplace. Also called regionally mantelpiece.
The protruding shelf over a fireplace. Also called mantelpiece, mantelshelf; also called regionally fireboard.

PAT said...

Thanks Barbara! I think I did a mantle instead of a mantel a time or two, on the back porch. I'm making an effort to remember to write mantel. My punctuation is not so hot. It's been 50 years since I had an English class. I'm afraid I've lapsed! My pet peeve is definitely definately.

That's a beautiful fireplace with a beautiful mantel!


Rosehaven Cottage said...

I'm so glad you pointed out the difference because I'll be blogging about my mantel in the next week and don't want to get it wrong. I didn't realize there was a difference until you pointed it out.
Cindy at Rosehave Cottage

Barbara said...

Yes you are right but at least I could not have fallen into that one as I do not have a mantel. I do have my decs done thought if yu have time to visit.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Now, I must run back & check out my blog to see if I've made this mistake. I know it is one that gets me just about everytime I try to type it!

Thanks for stopping by to see me this week!


celestina marie said...

Hi Barbara, Wow, you are so right! Thank you for bringing mantel and mantle to the forefront. I also have pet peeves with words that I see used out of context. Their vs.there ~ too vs.to ~ and so on! But I am sure I have made mistakes too!~LOL! Love your blog, thank you for stopping by mine as well.
Merry Christmas!

Seeb said...

I enjoyed your blog and your art works,I'll be glad to see you in my place;)

cherished*vintage said...

Thank you so much for visiting my new blog last week. I really enjoyed your comments! You can bet I'm not going to misspell mantle oops I mean mantel again! By the way I'm making the correction now! LOL

justabeachkat said...

Hi Barbara

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Come back anytime...you're always welcome.

I see you and I enjoy some of the same blogs. I've enjoyed my visit here to yours and will come again.

Christmas hugs!

Southern Heart said...

Thank you so much for your kind message on my blog. You have a lovely blog, and I will definitely be visiting again!

BTW, I'm kind of a spelling editor, too, and I *think* I spelled mantel correctly in my posts this week (and you made me look! :). I've been known to keep Websters up in a second window when I'm unsure...or tired...

Merry Christmas,


Roberta said...

Thanks Barbara! I had to do a little research on the word before I began my 'Mantel of the Month'!
Merry Christmas! Hugs, Roberta

Anonymous said...

I just had to stop and add my two cents. I believe that both spellings are correct. Mantel is included in the definitions of mantle in almost every dictionary I have searched. They misuse of your and you're and their and they're bothers me more than mantle and mantel.
Happy New Year anyway!