What Does Take Up the Mantle Mean?

Take Up the Mantle Meaning

Definition: To assume a role of leadership that someone else once held.

There are a few variations to the phrase, including pick up the mantle, carry the mantle, assume the mantle, etc.

Origin of Take Up the Mantle

To fully understand this idiom, you must know that mantle refers to a kind of article of clothing. A mantle is similar to an overcoat or a cloak. This type of garment is no longer common or in fashion.

This idiom comes from the Bible. In the Bible, a prophet named Elijah left his cloak behind when he ascended to heaven. A new prophet named Elisha picked up this mantle to wear and also took over Elijah’s role as prophet.

Typically, when people use this expression, it implies that the person taking up the mantle is taking over for someone who is no longer able or willing to continue.

To learn the difference between mantle and mantel, see here.

Examples of Take Up the Mantle

took up the mantleIn this conversation, two high-school students are gossiping about the social lives of other students.

Lisa: I heard that Kate is moving to another state. Once she leaves, the entire social structure of the school will change.

Annie: Why do you say that?

Lisa: She’s the most popular girl in school. Without her organizing all the social events, it will be anarchy.

Annie: I doubt that. I bet Becky will pick up the mantle and do everything that Kate does now.

carry the mantle meaningIn the dialogue below, two friends are discussing taking over some duties for the wine club of which they are both members.

Seth: Marty is stepping down as president of the wine club. I think I’ll try to replace him.

Jimmy: Are you sure you want to run for that election? It’s very competitive, and if you do get elected, there are a lot of responsibilities and there is not a lot of gratitude. I know I wouldn’t want to pick up the mantle.

More Examples

This example is from an article about getting elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame.

  • He partnered for a decade with blow-by-blow announcer Nick Charles, who succumbed to cancer in 2011, when Tompkins took over. “I just wanted to pick up the mantle and hope to do what he did. He was as good as there is,” Tompkins said of Charles. “If I could come anywhere near what Nick did with this show, I’m satisfied.” –USA Today

This excerpt is from an article about superhero movies and shows and the actors in them.

  • “I’m going now to interview [‘Daredevil’ star] Charlie Cox and there’s no part of me that’s like, ‘oh, he’s just an actor.’ He is Matt Murdock. This is a guy who was brave enough to pick up the mantle. That’s a dude whose mind I’d like to get inside of.” –New York Post


The phrase take up the mantle means to take over the responsibilities from someone else.