Mannequin, manikin, or manakin

Mannequin, manikin, and manakin are commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. Homophones are a group of words with different spellings, the same pronunciations, and different meanings. Homophones exist because of our ever-changing English language and are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. It can be difficult to learn how to spell different words that sound the same, and homophones are commonly misused words. Said aloud, the difference is less important, because the words are pronounced the same. The way the spelling and definitions differ can be confusing even to native English speakers when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Proper pronunciation of spoken English may help the listener distinguish between homophones and understand the correct spelling; the words affect-effect are a good example, but the word pairs to, too and two, bridle and bridal, creek and creak, hoard and horde, toed and towed, or horse and hoarse, are indistinguishable from each other and are easily confused and are commonly misused. Pronunciation is usually more ambiguous, as English pronunciation may vary according to dialect, and English spelling is constantly evolving. Pronunciation may change even though the spelling doesn’t, producing two words that are pronounced in the same manner but have different meanings such as night and knight. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice, and learning words in English by studying a dictionary of the English language. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word threw is derived from the Old English word thrawan, and the word through came from the Old English word thurh. Homophones are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced alike but have very different usage and etymology. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a homophone in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Homophones are often used in wordplay like puns. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words mannequin, manikin, and manakin, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

A mannequin is a dummy that is used to display clothes. Mannequins are common in retail stores and are used to display clothing in windows and on the store floor. The word mannequin came into English usage at the turn of the twentieth century and is a borrowed or loan word from the French. Loanwords and loan phrases or borrowed words and borrowed phrases are terms that have been taken from other languages and used as English words and phrases.

 A manikin is a jointed model of a human body that is used by artists or for medical training. The word manikin is derived from the Dutch word, manneken, which means little man.

A manakin is a species of a tropical American bird. The word manakin is also derived from the Dutch word, manneken.


While much is being spoken about clothing not being inclusive for all sizes, a plus-size mannequin on window display at a UK bridal store was being fat-ashamed and jeered at by passersby. (Indian Express)

“We’re not sure where these mannequins came from or how they got in the water, but have no fear… no mannequins were injured or killed in the making, creating or writing of this post,” the CHP joked. (People Magazine)

The public has picked ‘Moonikin Campos’ as the name for the manikin set to be launched on NASA‘s Artemis test flight around the Moon later this year. (Daily Mail)

This year, I’ve had the pleasure of helping to develop and administer one of the first manikin-based exams to address the unique challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. (RDH Magazine)

For a glimpse of the power of sexual selection, the dance of the golden-collared manakin is hard to beat. (Science Magazine)

Around the world from the cocks-of-the-rock and the manakins, the birds-of-paradise in the tropical forests of New Guinea offer the ultimate examples of extreme displays. (National Audubon Society)

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