Definition of mannequin in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmanəkən/


1A dummy used to display clothes in a store window.
Example sentences
  • Once I was able to sift through, I found I was surrounded by mannequins displaying the newest Berliner collection.
  • Never mind the clothes - you need only look at the mannequins in shop windows to feel obese.
  • What is striking in these Renaissance representations, and in the mannequins displayed outside, is the Venetian aristocracy's preference for dressing their African servants in lavish courtly attire.
dummy, model, figure
1.1chiefly historical A young woman or man employed to show clothes to customers.
Example sentences
  • Driven by the powerful grey consumer, modelling agencies with elderly mannequins are proliferating, and supermodels are making way for silver-haired ones as the advertising industry becomes attuned to the aging reality.
  • There was moving art in the form of mannequins modeling Megan Waterman's fashion creations.
  • She is what is known in the fashion industry as a fit model or live mannequin.


In English usage, the word mannequin occurs much more frequently than any of its relatives manakin, manikin, and mannikin. The source for all four words is the Middle Dutch mannekijn (modern Dutch manneken) ‘little man,’ ‘little doll.’ Mannequin is the French spelling from this Dutch source. One of its French meanings, dating from about 1830, is ‘a young woman hired to model clothes’ (even though the word means ‘little man’). This sense—still current, but rare in English—first appeared in 1902. The far more common sense of ‘a life-size jointed figure or dummy used for displaying clothes’ is first recorded in 1939. Manikin has had the sense ‘little man’ (often contemptuous) since the mid 16th century, when it was sometimes spelled manakin (as it appeared in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, as a term of abuse). Manikin’s sense of ‘an artist’s lay figure’ also dates from the mid 16th century (first recorded with the Dutch spelling manneken).To confuse matters further, in modern usage, the words manakin and mannikin refer to birds of two unrelated families. The history of these bird names is somewhat obscure. Manakin may have come from the Portuguese manaquimmannikin,’ a variant of manequim ‘mannequin.’ Mannikin may have come directly from the source of the Portuguese words, the Middle Dutch mannekijn.


Mid 18th century: from French, from Dutch (see manikin).

  • manikin from mid 16th century:

    This is from Dutch manneken ‘little man’. The same word, through French gives us mannequin for a model (early 20th century).

Words that rhyme with mannequin

manikin, pannikin

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: man·ne·quin

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