wearing the mantlepiece

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Wed Mar 28 02:22:47 UTC 2007

I do believe we have an eggcorn of sorts here. Here's sense 1b of mantle
from Merriam-Webster: "b : a figurative cloak symbolizing preeminence or
authority <accepted the mantle of leadership>". If this sense of mantle
(or even the more literal mantle=cloak) is unfamiliar to modern folks,
the switch to mantlepiece makes a wierd kind of sense, perhaps in
invoking some kind of oldfashioned-ness.

William Salmon wrote:
> Strange. There are plenty of relevant hits for "the conservative mantle"
> though.
> I'd always thought of "mantlepiece" as refering to the wooden frame
> around a fire place. In that case, wearing the mantlepiece would
> conjure an image like that of a yoked ox. Or maybe like this one:
> http://www.geocities.com/westhollywood/heights/9417/yoke.jpg
>> Tonight on CNN around an hour ago a report on the ascendancy of Fred
>> Thompson, who has rocketed up in the polls for Republican
>> presidential candidates, although not yet announced, apparently on
>> the strength of his tough prosecutorial expertise as DA on "Law and
>> Order", along with his opposition to gun control, abortion, and
>> same-sex marriage.  The reporter explained that his climb in the
>> numbers was partly attributable to the fact that nobody else had
>> taken the conservative mantlepiece.
>> I checked the wikipedia entry on mantle-wearing--
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantle
>> --and while many capes are featured, there was nary a mantelpiece in
>> sight.  Very odd.
>> (Actually, on reflection, the verb might not have been "take" but
>> "hold the conservative mantelpiece"--but its object was definitely
>> "the conservative mantelpiece", which curiously has no google hits
>> yet.)
>> LH
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ~Will Salmon
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Alice Faber
faber at haskins.yale.edu
Haskins Laboratories                                  tel: (203)
865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                                     fax (203)

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list