The marines received a medal for their display of valor and bravery in the long war. They had proved their mettle in battle and the medals on their chest were proof of that. However, they would soon realize that they had fought in a faux war; born by meddling in another country’s political affairs.

It is quite apparent from a glance at the words ‘medal’, ‘mettle’, and ‘meddle’ that they are homophones; that is to say, they sound alike. However, the English language can be tricky at times, and thus these homophones are, apparently, neither written the same nor do they mean anything close to each other.

A medal is an ornament or a piece of decoration, usually made of metal in a circular shape and stamped, awarded to someone as a prize or kept as a charm, or religious article. Mettle refers to someone’s quality of resilience and bravery or someone’s overall temperamental disposition. Lastly, meddle means to interfere with or in something especially if unwelcome to do so.

Much like their distinct meanings, these words have diverse etiologies and serve different purposes in grammar. Keep reading this article to learn more about how these words are defined and how they can be correctly used in a sentence. You never know, you might even earn a medal if you master all the tricky vocabulary on this site!

Medal vs mettle vs meddle – definitions, uses, and example sentences

Definition of medal

The word ‘medal’ is pronounced ‘meh-dl’. It is a noun and can be defined as a round or disc-shaped stamped object, usually cast in noble metals, awarded as a prize for success, victory, or service. It can also mean a religious artifact or omen of personal keeping, also usually made out of metal of similar dimensions. We’ve all heard about medals of honors and the Olympic medals given to soldiers and sports champions respectively. However, there also exist cast, elliptical, metallic discs commonly worn by Catholic Christians called ‘devotional medals’. Thus, the definition of medals can accommodate another clause that, besides being awarded or kept, they serve as a reminder to its wearer; of glory, fealty, religion, piety, or otherwise.

Example sentences of medal

  • In 1936, two Japanese Olympians who had tied and won a Silver and Bronze medal in pole vaulting famously had a jeweler cut their medals in half to make two silver-bronze medals as a gesture of friendship.

The first sentence employs the word ‘medal’ twice in a sentence about a factual incident during the Berlin Olympics. Two Japanese Olympians had experienced a draw in their match of pole vaulting. They employed a jeweler to cut their medals in half and combine the pieces to make two silver-bronze medals that highlighted their friendship.

  • The medal of the Nishan-e-Haider, the highest military gallantry award of Pakistan, is star-shaped and forged from captured enemy equipment.

The second sentence is also factually correct and clarifies that the word ‘award’ and ‘medal’ are not equivalent. An award is abstract while a medal is a physical artifact, usually metallic, given as an award.

  • Catholic Christians traditionally wear religious devotional medals to commemorate particular saints, events of historical Christian significance, and holy places.

In the last sentence, ‘medal’ is used in the meaning of religious object or charm pertaining to devotional catholic duties. Medals such as these are worn by Catholics who commemorate Christian deities and sacred places.

Definition of mettle

The word ‘mettle’ is pronounced ‘meh-tl’. It is a noun and represents one of two abstract qualities depending on the intended meaning. It can be defined as the quality of steadfastness and endurance, especially in dire situations and times of hardships. Secondly, it can also refer to a person’s overall temperamental makeup, character; the combined mannerisms of a person that constitute their behavior. When someone says, ‘Let’s see what you’re made of”, they’re talking about your mettle. The synonyms of ‘mettle’ are ‘courage’, ‘spirit’, and ‘heart’.

Example sentences of mettle

  • Abraham Lincoln presided over America in the most brutal of times and yet is often remembered as a man of brave mettle.

In the first sentence, the word ‘mettle’ is used in the meaning of a person’s character or temperament. It is noteworthy that when used in this meaning, the word will usually carry an adjective, which in this case is ‘brave’.

  • The officers of any good army go through vigorous training and harsh punishments that test their mettle.

Here, ‘mettle’ is used in the meaning of resilience and steadfastness. The sentence highlights that soldiers and officers employed in any army have to endure difficult training to obtain their positions. It is noteworthy, that when the word mettle is used in the sense of bravery an adjective is usually not required.

  • He proved his mettle by competing despite his handicap and winning in the sprint against all odds.

In the last sentence, ‘mettle’ is used in the same meaning as the first sentence and refers to the content of a person’s character. The handicapped boy proved himself by attaining victory in the sprint even though his chances f loosing were very strong.

Definition of meddle

The word ‘meddle’ sounds exactly like ‘medal’; it is pronounced ‘meh-dl’. Unlike a medal, it neither refers to a prized metal disc nor is it a noun. ‘Meddle’ is a verb and it refers to the act of interfering in or with something, especially where such interruption is unwelcome and/or unwarranted. This word is commonly used in spoken English with a negative connotation, especially in discussions of personal nature and international politics. Synonyms of the word ‘meddle’ are ‘interfere’, ‘tamper’, and ‘dabble’. This word also makes up the catch phrase of a very famous cartoon series ‘the Scooby Doo’ where all villains call the detective team ‘meddling kids’ which means kids who interfered with the villain’s plans.

Example sentences of meddle

  • The United States has relentlessly meddled in foreign countries’ politics resulting, more often than not, in political unrest, civil war, and destabilization.

In the first sentence, ‘meddle’ is used in the meaning of ‘foreign intervention’ which is employed in the past tense. The US is notoriously famous for this allegation.

  • My sister warned me not to meddle in her personal affairs when I tried telling my parents that she had failed her annual exams.

Here, ‘meddle’ is used in the meaning of ‘taking interest or interfering with unwelcome matters’. A relatable incident is reiterated here. One sister is trying to inform the parents about the other one’s failed exams. The other sister warns the first blatantly to not interfere with her affairs.

  • There is an ongoing ethical debate concerning meddling with the human genome, especially with the advent of new techniques of gene editing.

In the last sentence, ‘meddle’ is used in the present continuous tense in the sense of tampering or changing and editing(referring to genetic engineering). An ethical debate always circulates around genome editing because its results are unpredictable and ignorant religious groups feel as though it mimics God’s power.


The words ‘medal’, ‘mettle’, and ‘meddle’ sound almost indistinguishable, especially in spoken language. However, they vary vastly in their meanings and grammatical use. Medals are prized metallic artifacts usually worn as a pendant. They are a reminder of either a type of success or hold religious or spiritual value. Mettle describes the ability to withstand hardships and endure tough decisions and situations. It can also refer to someone’s character and persona. To meddle means to tamper with or interfere in something unduly. To learn each word, remember that ‘mettle’ sounds like metal, which is hard and withstands pressure and heat, which is what having mettle means. The word ‘MEDALS’ can be remembered as an acronym for ‘MEtallic Disc Awarded Looks Shiny’; an abbreviation that embraces the original definition of the word. With this acronym in mind, it would be easy to remember the meaning and spelling of the word. We hope this article was of service to you; take our mnemonics as a medal for reading till the end and come back soon!