Metal vs. Medal – What’s the Difference?

When you win an award for doing well in sports, do you receive a medal or metal?

These two words are homophones, which means that they sound alike when pronounced out loud but mean different things in most contexts. One of the reasons these words are confusing is that one is usually made from the other.

For instance, gold, silver, and bronze are metals. But depending on context, they can also refer to medals.

If that sounds confusing, you aren’t alone. Continue reading to learn more about these difficult homophones.

What is the Difference Between Metal and Medal?

In this post, I will compare metal vs. medal. I will use each of these words in at least one example sentence, so you can see how they appear in context.

Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that will make choosing metal or medal easier in your own writing.

When to Use Medal

metal versus medalWhat does medal mean? Medal is a noun. It is an award given for excellent performance, like in the Olympics.

A medal is typically worn on a ribbon around the neck. In the Olympics, a gold medal is awarded for placing first in a competition, while a silver medal is awarded for placing second. The third-place winner receives a bronze medal.

Here are some more examples,

  • Jonathan received a medal for perfect attendance at his elementary school last year.
  • When they won the tournament, each player on the soccer team received a medal.

Sometimes, medal is used as a verb, where it means to receive this type of award in a competition.

For example,

  • The star Olympic athlete medaled in her event in 2008, 2012, and 2016.

When to Use Metal

define metal define medal What does metal mean? Metal can be a noun or an adjective. As a noun, metal refers to an elementary substance that is typically shiny and conductive. Various types of metal are common building materials, along with stone, wood, and other substances. Metal can also refer to a genre of rock music.

For example,

  • The pathway led to a metal bridge over the creek that was rusty and in dangerous disrepair.
  • Cate loved to annoy her parents by listening to loud heavy metal on her headphones.

Like medal, metal can also be used as a verb, where it means to make something out of metal or to plate something with metal.

For example,

  • The metaled cleats were given to the player who scored the most goals at the end of the season.

Trick to Remember the Difference

definition of metal definition of medal definitionMetal and medal are homophones. They are confusing because medals are typically made from various types of metal, like gold, silver, and bronze.

Medal vs. Metal Check: Remember, a medal is a type of award. Since medal and award both contain the letter D, it should be easy to remember to reserve medal for this usage. Metal refers to the substances themselves, rather than the objects made from them.


Is it medal or metal? Medal and metal are homophones that can both be nouns.

  • A medal is an award given for excellent performance, such as in a sporting event.
  • Metal is a class of elemental substances that are usually hard, shiny, and conductive.

The words are confusing since medals are typically made of metals like silver, gold, and bronze.