Mannequin vs. Manikin: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve been following our blog for some time, you may have noticed the word “manikin” in some of our posts about arc-rated and flame resistant (AR / FR) clothing testing. If this word looks odd to you, you’re not alone! That’s because in everyday contexts you are likely much more acquainted with the spelling “mannequin” to denote a human form or dummy that is used to display clothing.

But believe it or not, though it may look foreign to some, “manikin” is not a typo. Instead, it’s a deliberate spelling based on the way the human figure is used in the context of our industry. Scott Margolin, Vice President of Technical, explains the subtle but significant difference between these two terms:

So what’s the difference between “mannequin” and “manikin”?

  • The term is spelled with a “q” – that is, “mannequin” – when the human form is being used to model clothing for fashion purposes. This includes applications like the sales floor in retail clothing stores, window displays, fashion industry shows, or even figures used by tailors or dressmakers for sewing or fitting clothing.
  • The term is spelled with a “k” – “manikin” – when the human form is being used for medical or scientific purposes – teaching anatomy, demonstrating surgical techniques, conducting scientific experiments.

In our industry, scientific manikins with sophisticated sensors are leveraged to test protective levels of AR / FR clothing – including ASTM F1930, the test method utilized to understand the body burn percentage for flash fire protective garments. Manikins are also used for scientific purposes in live arc flash and flash fire demonstrations, and ASTM F2621 Standard Practice for Determining Response Characteristics and Design Integrity of Arc Rated Finished Products and Evaluating other Products in an Electric Arc Exposure.

So, when you see the word “manikin” used in our blog and resources in reference to AR / FR testing, it’s to denote the use of the human figure for technical and scientific purposes.

Want to learn more about technical topics? Don’t miss our FR Safety Resource Hub and Resource Collections, where we’ve organized content into a series of curated groups that make it easy to quickly locate information on helpful topics.

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