Manikin or Mannequin?

Throughout Thermetrics’ website, visitors will see that NewtonNemoADAMSTAN, and our other anthropometric systems are called “Thermal Manikins.”

Hmmm, you say, why aren’t they called “Thermal Mannequins”? They’re the same thing, right?

In many European countries (and a good part of the Americas) a retail store display or fashion dummy is called a mannequin. That word has been around a long time, and because it sounds the same in a number of major languages (English, French, German, etc.), when people hear the unfamiliar word ‘manikin’ spoken they automatically assume it is the word they know – mannequin.

But, even though “manikin” and “mannequin” are pronounced the same, the two words have different meanings.

In most dictionaries (see, “mannequin” is primarily used to describe a fashion dummy:

Mannequin (alt: Manikin) 1: A life-size model of a human being, used by tailors, artists, or to display clothing in the window of a shop. 2: A person who models clothing.

However, the word “manikin” has a much more specialized definition:

Manikin (alt: Mannequin) 1: An anatomical model of the human body, usually with movable parts, used for teaching medical or art students.

Therefore, when test instruments began to replace human subjects in thermal comfort research during the 1950’s and 60’s, the term “thermal manikin” was selected as the best definition for the instrumented models being developed. 

We still see both terms being used, and that’s OK with us. Whether it’s a Thermal Manikin, or Thermal Mannequin, we’re the right people to call.

Note: we occasionally get inquiries from people looking for a “thermal dummy”, perhaps due to name-confusion with the more familiar crash test dummy – an instrument that doesn’t have enough sense to stay out of car accidents. But because simulating the metabolic state of a human takes a good brain and a well-tuned control system, our manikins aren’t dummies!