Glossary of Heraldic Terms


royal-coat-of-armsWhen you want to know more about Heraldry then you should learn about Heraldic Terms. You can select from the glossary below.

Heraldry is the science which teaches us how to blazon or describe in proper terms armorial bearings and their accessories.

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  • A

    In heraldric memoranda and sketches of arms in trick, the letter A is employed to signify the metal Argent and is often perferred over ar. Which might be mistaken for az. or for Or.

  • A Bouche

    Refers to a shape of shield.  Basically rectangular, it is distinguished by the presence of a notch (lance rest) at the dexter chief position.  May also be referred to as a Jousting or Tournament Shield.

  • Abacot

    The word Abacot is an interesting example of how an error in proof reading invented a word.bycoket2

    Apparently the word originated in a misprint of Edward Hall’s Chronicle of 1548 and was then picked up and used by others who thought it was, in fact, a real word.

    In 1882, James Murray of the Oxford English Dictionary made the case that the original word was supposed to be bycoket which was taken to originate from an Old French term for a small fort built upon a hill.  The bycoket was in fact a form of headdress which was peaked both in front and behind.

    Oddly enough, since other heraldry source books have included the word Abacot as a word for a cap worn by the Kings of England, the student of heraldry may have the occasion to stumble upon the word used in that context by authors who thought they were using an actual word.

  • Abased

    The French word is abaisse and is generally used in heraldry instead of the English word abased. When the fess, or any other ordinary properly placed above the fess point of the shield, is brought below it, that ordinary is said to be abaisse.

    This term is used when a chevron, fesse, or other ordinary, is borne lower than its usual situation. Charges, however, when placed low down in the shield are said to be in base.

  • Abatement

    Any figure added to coats of arms tending to lower the dignity or station of the bearer.  Thus, the baton sinister, denoting illegitimacy, is an abatement.  Abatements have also been called Rebatements.

    This is not a good thing to have as they are marks of disgrace attached to arms on account of some dishonourable act of the bearer.

    Broken chevrons, and beasts turned towards the sinister, are said by some heraldic circles to have been given as abatements.

  • Abbisme

    In the middle fess point.  Also called “Abyss” by some English armorists.

  • Abouttés

    In heraldry, Abouttés is the position of charges joined by the ends, united in the center of the shield.

  • Absconded

    When a charge is entirely hidden by another charge or ordinary being placed upon it, the concealed item is said to be absconded.  In all manners the absconded charge is considered to be present and is emblazoned as if it were.The most common source of absconded charges is likely from Augmentations received after the original coat of arms was awarded.   Augmentations are awarded by the sovereign to distinguish the bearer for some exceptional service to the crown.

  • Accident

    Any artistic element of a coat of arms which does not change the nature of those arms is referred to as an Accident.

    Historically a good deal of latitude was given to heraldic artists in their depiction of a particular coat of arms.   Minor differences in how a charge was drawn, its exact position or attitude all had a good deal of “wiggle room” so long as the depicted arms would still be accurately described with the same blazon.

    A comprehensive term applying to marks of difference and the like, as well as any artistic interpretations of the arms in emblazon which do not substantively alter the nature or blazon of the arms.  An additional mark on a coat of arms, which may be retained or eliminated without altering its essential character.

  • Accollee

    In heraldry, accollee means placed side by side; also, entwined about the neck.

  • Accompanied

    Between. For example, accompanied by four crescents, would mean between four crescents.

    When a charge or ordinary is surrounded or placed between a number of other charges, it is said to be accompanied by those charges.

    In the case of ordinaries there may be “natural” places for the accompanying charges to go, if the charges are to be placed in those “natural” positions, the position need not be mentioned in the blazon.  For example, if a chevron is accompanied by two charges above and one charge below, that arrangement is deemed to be “natural” so the specific position of the charges might not be blazoned.  When making your own blazons, it is always better to error on the side of too much information instead of crafting a blazon which might not properly describe your arms.

  • Accorne

    Horned but only used when the horns are of a different tincture from the rest of the beast.

  • Accosted

    Supported on both sides by other charges and also, side by side.

  • Accroupi

    Said of a lion or wild beat in a resting posture, the same posture as Sejant.

  • Accrued

    Full-grown. Applied to trees.

  • Achievement

    The coat of arms (helmet, crest, mantling, motto) fully emblazoned according to the rules of heraldry.  The lozenge-shaped achievements that are displayed on the outside of the houses of person decreased are commonly called hatchments.

    An achievement in heraldry is a complete display of arms, crest and other accessories. An achievement is made up of six items.

    1. The shield -The shield is the part of the achievement most people think in heraldry. It carries the special devices or objects, called charges, which make that particular coat-of-arms distinct from any other. The shield often appears by itself without any other parts of an achievement.

    2. The helmet – This appears above the shield, and its typing position indicates the rank of the owner.

    3. The mantling or lambrequin – This sweeps round from the top of the helmet and drapes each side of the shield. It is said that this is a representation of the mantle worn by a knight in warm climates for protection from the sun on the metal.

    4.The wreath or torse – A piece of twisted silk which covers the joint of the helmet and the crest.

    5. The crest – This was originally the object which knights used to wear attached to their helmets particularly at jousts.

    6. Mottos – They usually occur on a scroll normally placed beneath the shield or over the crest.

  • Adders

    Appear not to be distinguishable from serpents and snakes, except as regards size. They are represented as notced, embowed, or erect. When not otherwise described they would be represented fesswise, but curling.

  • Addition

    In heraldry, an addition is something added to a coat of arms, as a mark of honour the opposite of an abatement.

  • Addorsed

    Any animals set back to back or facing away from each other. As with combatant, charges addorsed can only appear in pairs.

    Here is an Example:

  • Adumbration

    The shadow of a charge, apart from the charge itself, painted the same color as the field upon which it is placed, hut of a darker tint, or, perhaps, in outline only. The term belongs rather to the romance of heraldry than to its practice, and is imagined by the writers to have been adopted by families who, having lost their possessions, and consequently being unable to maintain their dignity, chose rather to bear their hereditary arms adumbrated than to relinquish them altogether. When figured by a black line the bearing is said to be entailed.

  • Affrontee

    Showing full face or front.

    Affrontee is said of an animal or being that is turned to face toward the viewer. This is the presumed position of a human or human-like being, but may be used among beasts.

    Confronting or Respecting are phrases sometimes used in this connection.

    The opposite would be Addorsed or Combatant

  • Agnus Dei

    The Lamb of God.

  • Allerion

    An eagle displayed, without beak or feet.

    Here is an Example of Allerion

     

  • Allusive Arms

    Arms based upon a pun derived from the bearer’s name or occupation.

  • Alternate

    Figures or tinctures that succeed each other by turns.

    Here is the best example of I can give. It is a shield using alternate vair

     

  • Ambulant

    In the act of walking.Jones Coat of Arms

    In the coat of Arms we show for the surname of Jones it shows a lion ambulant.

     

  • Amethyst

    A precious stone of a violet color, the name of which was formerly used instead of purpure, to denote the purple tincture when emblazoning the arms of the English nobility.

  • Anche

    Curved; used of a scimitar.

  • Ancient

    Normally the word means of or in time long past or dating from a remote period. It also can mean very old; aged and a person who lived in ancient times.  But in Heraldry it means A small flag or ensign. The bearer of the flag was called by its name.

  • Annulet

    A small circle borne as a charge in coats of arms.

    annulet is a small ring, it is beleived that is it derived from the links composing chain armour. It is of frequent occurrence as a charge, and generally more than one appear: the two annulets are often linked in fess, or embraced; or they may be conjunct. Three may in like manner be interlaced in triangle. When three rings are interlaced the expression gimbal rings is sometimes used, and when more, they form a chain.
    The single annulet is used in the mark of cadency, assigned to the fifth son.

    In the Coat of Arms for Jean de Coaraze dating back to 1354 they used annulets.

    This shield is described as:
    Quarterly, I and IV, Gules, an Annulet Argent (Coaraze), II and III, Or, two Cows passant in pale Gules, horned, belled and hooved Azure

  • Annulo

    The term in annulo refers the position of charges arranged in a circle or ring, like the shape of the Annulet.

  • Antelope

    May refer to either the natural antelope of the heraldic antelope, the Agacella.

  • Antique

    Meant to imply depicted in the old style.

  • Anvil

    The blacksmith’s anvil.

  • Apaumy

    An open hand, showing the palm.

    For an example I have used Sir Bagdemagus, King of Gore
    Arthurian Literary Character
    His Arms are: Gules, three sinister gloves apaumy argent.

    This is what I picture that as being:

  • Ape

    Heraldry does not often distinguish between Apes and Monkeys, their usual depiction is quite stylized and may be difficult to recognize..  However, a variety of later crests used monkeys as elements and a number can be found as supporters.

  • Archbishops

    Church dignitaries of the first class. There are but two in England-the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York. The former is the first peer of England next to the royal family, and has the title of Grace given to him; and likewise Most Reverend Father in God. He is styled Primate of all England, and Metropolitan.  The Archbishop of York has precedence of dukes and great officers of state, except the lord chancellor. He is called His Grace and Most Reverend Father in God; and styled Primate of England and Metropolitan.

  • Argent

    The French word for silver, of which metal all white fields or charges are supposed to consist. This is also said to represent the Moon.

    This is one of many tinctures. Tinctures are the colors, metals, and furs used in heraldry, though the depiction of charges in their natural colors or “proper” are also regarded as tinctures.

    In heraldry, argent is the tincture of silver, and belongs to the class of light tinctures, called “metals”. It is very frequently depicted as white and usually considered interchangeable with it. In engravings and line drawings, regions to be tinctured argent are either left blank. Sometimes it may be indicated with the abbreviation “ar”.

     

  • Armed

    This word is used to express the horns, hoofs, beak, teeth, or talons of any beast or bird of prey, when borne of a different tincture from those of their bodies. This is meaning thier natural weapons not added weapons

    The application to beasts and birds of prey is because their talons are to them weapons of defence.

    The romanian heraldry is a good example of this.

     

  • Armorist

    A person skilled in the bearings of coats of arms, and all relating to their emblazonment. Not to be confused with the Armorer who makes the armor you wear.

  • Arms

    A word derived from the Latin arma, which signifies in heraldry a mark of honor, serving to distinguish states, cities, families, etc.

    Arms are the ensigns armorial of a family, consisting of figures and colours borne in shields and banners as marks of dignity and distinction, and descending from father to son.

    My main example of this would be the Royalty of England. You can see how the shield change over time, but they keep the symbols of the family lines as well.

     

  • Arms of Enquiry

    Arms which do not comply with the Rule of Tincture.  This rule is followed so greatly that any breach of the rule is thought to be done on purpose, hence the term Arms of Enquiry, meaning that the viewer will automatically wish to inquire why the rule was broken.  The most famous example is the Argent field and Or crosses of the Arms of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, where in the usage of metal on metal was to allude to exceptionally holy nature of the domain.

  • Arrows

    Short darts feathered at the ends.

  • Aspectant

    Animals placed face to face in a charge are said to be aspectant.  If they are about to attack each other, they are said to be combatant.

  • Assumptive

    Arms assumed without legal authority.  Arms assumed without being sanctioned by a grant from the College of Heralds.

  • Assurgent

    A man or beast rising out of the sea is said to be assurgent.

  • Attired

    When the horns of a stag are of a different tincture to its head, it is said to be attired of the tincture.

  • Augmentation

    This word signifies in heraldary a particular mark of honour, granted by the sovereign in consideration of some noble action, of by favor and either quartered with the family arms, or borne on an escutcheon, chief, or canton.

  • Azure

    The French word for blue: it is represented in heraldic engraving by parallel lines.

  • Badge

    A distinctive mark, without motto or wreath, worn by servants, retainers, and follower or royalty or nobility, who, being beneath the rank of gentlemen, have no right to armorial bearings.

  • Banded

    Anything tied with a band.

  • Banner

    The principal flag of a knight.  The great banner borne at the funeral of a nobleman contains all the quarters of his arms; it varies in size according to the rank of the deceased.  The banner of the sovereign is five feet square; that of a prince or duke, four feet square; for all noblemen of inferior rank, three feet square.

  • Banner Roll

    This is a small square flag containing a single escutcheon of the decreased.  Thus, if there are twelve quartering’s in the banner, the same number of banner rolls will be required to be borne in the funeral procession.

  • Bar

    A diminutive of the fess, occupying one-fifth of the shield.  It may be placed in any part of the field.  It has two diminutives, the closet and barrulet.

  • Bar-wise

    Crossing the field in the manner of a bar.

  • Barbed

    Bearded.  It is also applied to the small green leaves about roses.

  • Bardings

    Horse trapping charged with armorial bearings.

  • Baron

    The lowest title of the peerage of Great Britain.  This also denotes the arms of the husband, when used as Baron and Femme.

  • Baron and Femme

    Terms used in Heraldry to denote the arms of a man and his wife, marshalled together.

  • Barrulet

    The smallest diminutive of the bar.  The closet is half the bar; the barrulet half the closet.

  • Barry

    A field divided transversely into several equal parts exceeding five in number, and consisting of two different tinctures interchangeably disposed.  They must always be an even number.

  • Base

    The lowest part of the shield.

  • Baton

    This is a fourth part of the bend, and is couped at both ends.  It is generally used in England as an abatement in coats of arms to denote illegitimacy, and is seldom used except by the natural issue of royalty and their descendants, and is then represented as a baton sinister.  Also known as Batune and Baston.

  • Battering Ram

    An instrument used for battering down walls previous to the use of gunpowder. It is frequently borne as a charge in a coat of arms.

  • Battle Axe

    An ancient military weapon. It is frequently borne on arms as a mark of prowess.

  • Battlements

    Divisions or apertures on the top of castle walls or towers.

  • Beaked

    The beak of a bird being of a different tint from the body is said to be beaked of a tincture or metal.

  • Beaver

    That part of the helmet that defends the sight. This is a the common definition found in heraldry books, and it is wrong.  The “bavier” or “beaver” in English, is actually the chin guard.  After European colonization of the New World the small fur-bearing mammal known as the Beaver began to appear on Coats of Arms — symbolizing industrious adventures in the New World.  Be careful of confusion of these two terms.

  • Belled

    Having Bells.

  • Bend

    One of the honourable ordinaries formed by two diagonal lines drawn from the dexter chief to the sinister base; it generally occupies a fifth part of the shield if uncharged, but if charged, one-third.

  • Bend Sinister

    This is the reverse of the bend, being drawn from the sinister to the dexter side of the shield; it is seldom found in coats of arms, as it is reckoned an abatement.

  • Bendlet

    Diminutive of the bend, of the same shape, but only half the width of the bend.

  • Bendy

    This word serves to denote a field divided diagonally into several bends, varying in metal and color.

  • Besant

    Gold Coin of Byzantium; when they appear in a coat of arms their color is or.   Bezant the color is not described.  A besant is always or.

  • Bevilly

    Dovetailed

  • Billets

    This charge is supposed to represent tiles or bricks or a letter or billet.

  • Bishops

    Church dignitaries: they are barons of the realm, and have precedence next to viscounts: they have the title of lords, and right reverend fathers in God.

  • Blazon

    To describe in proper heraldic language and colors all that belongs to coats of arms.  To ensure that the pictures people draw after reading the descriptions are accurate and reasonably alike, blazons follow a set of rules:

    The first thing the blazon describes is the tincture of the field. In some cases of “landscape heraldry” all or part of the field is some sort of landscape.

    Next the blazon describes the placement and tinctures of the different charges on the shield. The charges are described from the shield’s top to the base and from dexter to sinister, defined from the shield-bearer’s point of view, not the observer’s.

    A heraldic picture is called an emblazon. Emblazons are visual manifestations of heraldic insignia, typically displayed on shields or flags. Because emblazons are awkward to work with, heraldry uses a specialized jargon called blazon to describe shields and flags. Persons skilled in heraldry can discuss shields entirely in blazon, without ever drawing the emblazons. As a noun, the word “blazon” is also used to refer to the heraldic description of a shield or flag.

    The great advantage of blazon over plain English is that blazon terms are defined more precisely than English ones. As a result, one can describe a shield more accurately and in fewer words with blazon than one can in plain English.

    The distinction between blazon and emblazon is an important one, since there is not a one-to-one correspondence between blazons and emblazons. In many cases, a particular emblazon can be described in heraldic language in more than one way. And no two heraldic artists will draw a given blazon in exactly the same way. But for well-designed heraldry, the blazon captures the important features of the emblazon, and, given a blazon, a trained heraldic artist should be able to produce a reasonable facsimile of the original emblazon.

  • Border

    This was the most ancient difference in coats of arms, to distinguish different branches of the same family. It is a border round the edge of the shield. Its situation is always the same; but the inner edge may be varied.

  • Bordure

    This is the most ancient difference in coats of arms, to distinguish different branches of the same family.  It is a border round the edge of the shield.  It’s situation is always the same; but the inner edge may be varied.

  • Boujet

    Ancient water bucket, frequently borne in shields of arms.

  • Braced

    Two figures of the same form, interlacing each other.

  • Brased

    A word sometimes used as Brazed. And used by ancient armorists when describing interlaced or braced together.

  • Brisure

    A mark of cadency or difference.

  • Broad Arrow

    broad-arrowAn ancient weapon of war, thrown by an engine.  It is frequently borne as a charge in coats of arms.

  • Brouchant

    Placed over, or overlying.

  • Bycoket

    The word Abacot is an interesting example of how an error in proof reading invented a word.bycoket2

    Apparently the word originated in a misprint of Edward Hall’s Chronicle of 1548 and was then picked up and used by others who thought it was, in fact, a real word.

    In 1882, James Murray of the Oxford English Dictionary made the case that the original word was supposed to be bycoket which was taken to originate from an Old French term for a small fort built upon a hill.  The bycoket was in fact a form of headdress which was peaked both in front and behind.

    Oddly enough, since other heraldry source books have included the word Abacot as a word for a cap worn by the Kings of England, the student of heraldry may have the occasion to stumble upon the word used in that context by authors who thought they were using an actual word.

  • Caboched

    Beasts’ heads borne without any part of the neck, and full faced.

  • Caltrop

    An iron instrument made to annoy an enemy’s cavalry. They were caltropformed of iron, being four spikes conjoined in such a manner that one was always upwards. It is found in many ancient coats of arms.

  • Canton

    cantonThe French word for corner. It is a small square figure, generally placed at the dexter chief of the shield.

  • Celestial Crown

    Distinguished from any other crown by the stars on the points or rays that proceed from the circlet.crown_celestial

  • Champagne

    A narrow piece cut off the base of a shield by a straight line

  • Chapeau

    Cap of maintenance or dignity, borne only by sovereign princes. It is formed of crimson azure_chapeauor scarlet velvet, lined with ermine. In certain crests it is used in place of the torse or crest wreath.

  • Chaplet

    An ancient ornament for the head, granted to gallant knights for acts of courtesy. It is Chapletfrequently borne as a charge in a shield of arms, and always tinted in its natural colors.

  • Charge

    The figures or bearings contained in an escutcheon

  • Checky

    checkyThe field covered with alternate squares of metal or color and fur.

  • Chevron

    chevronThis ordinary is supposed to represent the rafters of the gable of a house.

     

  • Chevron Couched

    One which springs from either the dexter or sinister side of the shield.

  • Chevronel

    The diminutive of the chevron, being one half its size.chevronel

  • Chief

    One of the honshieldorable ordinaries. It is placed on the upper part of the shield and contains a third part of it. The letters show the points in the chief. 1 is the dexter chief; 2, the precise middle chief; 3, the sinister chief.

  • Chimerical Figures

    Imaginary figures, such as griffins, dragons, harpies, etc.

  • Cinque Foil

    Five leaves conjoined in the centercinquefoil.

  • Civic Cap

    civic_capA cap of dignity borne by mayors of cities or corporate bodies: it is formed of sables garnished with ermine.

  • Civic Crown

    A wreath of oak leaves and acorns.

  • Clarion

    clarionA horn or trumpet borne in this shape in English and German coat-armour.

  • Clenched

    clenchedThe fingers pressed towards the palm of the hand.

  • Close

    closeApplied to a bird with its wings closed.

  • closegirt

    closegirtA figure whose dress is fastened round the waist.

  • Closet

    closetA diminutive of the bar, being only one half its width.

  • Coat Armour

    coatarmourA loose garment worn over the armour of a knight; hence the term coat of arms. On this garment were emblazoned the armorial bearings of the wearer.

  • Cockatrice

    cockatriceA chimerical animal, a cock with a dragon’s tail and wings.

  • Collared

    Having a collar. Dogs and inferior animals are sometimes collared: the supporters and charges are generally said to be gorged.

  • Combatant

    A French word for fighting.

  • Complement

    The Heraldic term for the full moon. When this figure is introduced as a charge in a coat of arms, it is called a moon in her complement.

  • Compony

    componyA term applied to a bordure, pale, bend, or any other ordinary, made up of squares of alternate metal and color.

  • Conjoined

    conjoinedJoined together.

  • Cony

    conyAn heraldic name for a young rabbit.

  • Cordon

    A silver cord which encircles the arms of a widow.

  • Coronet

    A crown used by members of nobility.

  • Cotise

    cotiseOne of the diminutives of the bend: cotises are generally borne on each side of the bend.  The cotises are frequently of a different tincture from the bend they cotise.

  • Couchant

    The French word for lying down with the breast towards the earth, and the head raised.

  • Count

    A nobleman that was deputed by the king to govern a county or shire: the title is not used in the British Peerage; his rank is equal to an earl.

  • Counter

    In Heraldry implies contrariety, as in the following examples:—

    counter-changedCOUNTER-CHANGED. The intermixture of metal with colours opposed to each other.

    COUNTER-EMBATTLED. Embattled on both sides.
    COUNTER SALIENT. Two animals leaping different ways from each other.counter-salient

    COUNTER-COMPONY. Is applied to an ordinary of two checks in width of alternating tinctures.

    counter-floryCOUNTER FLORY. Any ordinary ornamented with fleurs-de-luce: the points of the flowers run alternately in a contrary direction.

    COUNTER PASSANT. Two animals passing the contrary way to each other.counter-passant

     

     

     

     

     

  • Couped

    coupedThe head or limbs of any animal cut close is called couped.  From the French word couper, to cut.  Part of an object being cut off, so as not to touch the edges of the shield.

  • Couple-Close

    couple-closeOne of the diminutives of the chevron, half the size of the chevronel.

  • Courant

    courantRunning.

  • Coward

    Signifies an animal with its tail between its legs.

  • Crenelle

    crenelleThe French heraldic term for embattled.

  • Crest

    This was originally the object which knights used to wear attached to their helmets particularly at jousts.

    crestsThe ornament on the upper part of the helmet in Heraldry placed over coats of arms, either with or without the helmet.

    • The English crest is a crown surmounted by a lion statant guardant crowned, or.
    • The Scottish crest is an imperial crown, surmounted by a lion sejant guardant, displaying two sceptres or.
    • The Irish crest is an ancient diadem surmounted by an embattled tower, a stag courant issuing from the portal.
    • The crest of Wales is a dragon passant guardant, gules.

    Crests are usually displayed upon a wreath.

  • Crested

    A cock or other bird, whose comb is of a different tincture from the body, is said to be crested.

  • Crined

    crinedThis is said of an animal whose hair is of a different tincture from its body.

  • Crosier

    crozierThe pastoral staff of a bishop or abbot: a very frequent charge in ecclesiastical arms.

  • Cross

    CROSS. An honourable ordinary, more used as a charge in a coat of arms than any of the others. During the Crusades for the recovery of the Holy Land, the troops of the different nations that joined in the Crusade displayed crosses on their banners and arms: every soldier bore a cross upon his dress; this was composed of two pieces of list or riband of equal length, crossing each other at right angles. The soldiers of France attached their national emblem, the fleur-de-lis, to the ends of the members of the cross; hence the introduction of the cross flory. The Crusaders from the Papal dominions placed transverse pieces on each member of the plain cross, and by this means transformed it into four small crosses springing from a centre, forming what is now called the cross-crosslet. It would be impossible within the limits of this work to give an example of all the crosses that have been introduced as bearings in coats of arms. Berry, in his comprehensive work on Heraldry, gives nearly two hundred examples, without giving all that might be found. The following are the crosses most used in English Heraldry.

    ·       Cross
    ·       Cross potent
    ·       Cross flory
    ·       heraldic_crossesCross crosslet
    ·       Cross bottonny
    ·       Cross pattee
    ·       Cross raguly
    ·        Cross patonce
    ·       Cross moline
    ·       Cross quadrate
    ·       Cross quarter-pierced
    ·       Cross of Calvary
    ·       Cross fitchy
    ·       Cross patriarchal
    ·       Cross potent rebated

  • Crown

    Royalty and Nobility of differing station and heritage will use different styles of coronets and coronets. The term Crown is usually properly assigned only to the sovereign of the country, all other titled persons will use the Coronet.

    heraldiccrowns

  • Curtana

    curtanaThe pointless sword of mercy is the principal in dignity of the three swords that are borne naked before the British monarchs at their coronation.

  • Dancette

    dancetteA zig-zag figure with spaces between the points, much larger than in the indented.

  • Debruised

    debruisedAny animal that has an ordinary placed upon it is said to be debruised.

  • Decressant

    decressantA moon in its wane, whose horns are turned to the sinister side of the escutcheon.

  • Degraded

    degradedApplied to a cross where the arms end in steps.

  • Demi

    This particle is always joined to a substantive, and signifies half; as, a demi-lion, i.e. half a lion.

  • Detriment

    detrimentThe moon is said to be in its detriment when it is eclipsed.

  • Dexter

    A word used in Heraldry to signify the right side of anything.  It is important to note that direction on the shield are from the vantage point of the bearer of the shield, so that the ‘right’ or ‘dexter’ part of the shield is in fact on the viewers left.

  • Diadem

    diadema circle of gold with points rising from it, worn by ancient kings as the token of royalty.

  • Diamond

    The hardest and most valuable of precious stones; it was formerly used by English heralds to denote black or sable in blazoning the arms of the nobility.

  • Difference

    The term given to a certain figure added to coats of arms to distinguish one family from another, and to show how distant younger branches are from the elder or principal branch.

  • Diminution

    A word sometimes used instead of difference.

  • Displayed

    displayedA bird whose wings are expanded and legs spread is said to be displayed.

  • Dormant

    The French word for sleeping, used to denote the posture of a lion, or any other beast reposing.

  • Double Tressure

    doubletressureTwo Tressures, or orles, one within the other.

  • Doublings

    The lining of robes of state, as also the rows of fur set on the mantles of peers.

  • Dovetailed

    dovetailedA term borrowed from carpentry to show tinctures joined together by reversed wedges, which, being shaped like doves’ tails, are by joiners called dovetailing.

  • Dragon

    An imaginary monster; a mixture of beast, bird, and reptile. It is frequently borne in crests and charges.

    DRAGON’S HEAD. Part of a celestial constellation, used by ancient English heralds to denote tenne when emblazoning the arms of sovereigns; this style of heraldry has become obsolete.

    DRAGON’S TAIL. Part of the same constellation; formerly used to denote sanguine.

  • Duke

    The highest degree of British peerage next to the Prince of Wales. This title is derived from the Latin word dux: the title of Duke was known in other parts of Europe long before it was introduced into England. The first person that was created a duke in England country was Edward the Black Prince, who was created duke of Cornwall by his father Edward the third. The title has since that time belonged to the first born son of the monarch of England. A duke formerly possessed great authority over the province that formed his dukedom, and had large estates annexed to his title to support its dignity. At the present time dukes are created by patent, and their dukedom is merely nominal, neither power nor possessions being annexed to the title.

  • Eagle

    Aquila in Ornithology. In Heraldry the eagle is accounted one of the most noble bearings, and ought to be given only to such as greatly excel in the virtues of generosity and courage, or for having done some singular service to their sovereign.

  • Eaglet

    is a diminutive of eagle, properly signifying a young eagle. In Heraldry, when several eagles are on the same escutcheon, they are termed eaglets.

  • Earl

    The third degree of British peerage. Under the Danish and Saxon kings this was the highest title known in England conferred upon a subject. It was formerly the custom upon creating an earl to assign him, for the support of his state, the third penny from the fines and profits of the sheriff’s court, issuing out of the pleas of the shire whence the earl took his title; as, formerly, there was no count or earl but had a county or shire for his earldom. When the number of earls was increased, they took their titles from towns and villages. An earl is now created by patent.

  • Earl Marshall of England

    A very ancient, and formerly a very important, officer, who had several courts under his jurisdiction, as the Court of Chivalry, the Court of Honour. He still presides over the Heralds’ College, and nominally over the Marshalsea Court.

  • Eastern Crown

    A crown with rays proceeding from a circle, called by heralds an Eastern crown, is found in ancient achievements.

  • Embattled

    A line, formed like the battlements on a wall or tower, is said to be embattled or crenelle. When the line is used to form one of the ordinaries, it is said to be embattled.

  • Embattled Grady

    Where the battlements gradually rise one above another.

  • Embowed

    Anything bent or curved, like a bow.

  • Emerald

    The name of a precious stone formerly substituted for vert in emblazoning the arms of the nobility of England.

  • En Arriere

    An expression borrowed from the French, to signify any creature borne with its back to view.

  • Endorse

    The smallest diminutive of the pale.

  • Engrailed

    Any object being edged with small semi-circles, the points turning outwards, is said to be engrailed.

  • Enhanced

    A term applied to bearings placed above their usual situation.

  • Ensigned

    This word, in heraldic description, means ornamented.

  • Erased

    Signifies anything torn or plucked off from the part to which nature affixed it; generally applied to the head and limbs of man or beast. Erased features should have some sort of ragged edge so as to be different from Couped or Caboshed.

  • Erect

    This is said of any animal or parts of animals, naturally horizontal, being placed in a perpendicular direction.

  • Ermine

    A white fur with black spots.

  • Ermines

    This fur is represented by white spots on a black field.

  • Erminois

    A fur, the field, or, the spots or tufts, sable.

  • Escalop

    The shell of a sea-fish, used to decorate the palmers on their way to and from Palestine; frequently used as a charge in Heraldry.

  • Escutcheon

    This word is sometimes used to express the whole coat of arms, sometimes only the field upon which the arms are painted. It more generally denotes the painted shields used at funerals. The field, if the husband is dead and wife survives, is black on the dexter side only; if the wife is deceased, it is black on the sinister side; if both, it is black all over.

  • Escutcheon of Pretence

    A small escutcheon, on which a man bears the coat of arms of his wife, being an heiress.

  • Esquire

    The degree below a knight and above a gentleman. Those to whom this title is due by right, are all the younger sons of noblemen and their heirs male forever, the four esquires of the king’s body, the eldest sons of baronets, of all knights and of their heirs male: those who bear superior offices, as magistrates, high sheriffs, mayors, and aldermen, have it during their continuance in office and no longer.

  • Estoile

    The French word for a star. It differs from the mullet in the number of points, and four of the points being rayant.

  • Femme

    Term used in heraldry to denote a mans wife when marshalled together.

  • Fess

    An honourable ordinary occupying the third part of the shield between the centre and the base.

  • Fess Point

    The exact centre of the escutcheon.

  • Field

    The whole surface of the shield or escutcheon: it is the ground upon which the colours, tinctures, furs, ordinaries, and charges, are represented.

  • Figured

    Those bearings which are depicted with a human face, are said to be figured.

  • Fillet

    The only diminutive belonging to the chief; its width is one-fourth of the chief, and is always placed at the base of it.

  • Fimbriated

    An ordinary having a border of a different tincture is said to be fimbriated.

  • Fitchy

    Is from the French word fiché, fixed. It is generally applied to crosses which have their lower branch pointed, so that it could be fixed in the ground.

  • Flanches

    Are formed of two curved lines placed opposite each other.

  • Flank

    That part of an escutcheon between the chief and the base.

  • Flasques

    A subordinate ordinary formed by curved lines placed opposite each other, but not so near as in flanches.

  • Fleur-De-Lis

    Supposed to represent the garden-lily. It is the bearing of the Bourbons of France, but is frequently introduced in English charges.

  • Flory

    Signifies flowered or adorned with the fleur-de-lis.

  • Fret

    Two laths interlaced with a mascle.

  • Fretty

    This word denotes a field covered with fretwork or laths interlacing each other.

  • Fusil

    Is longer than the lozenge: the upper and lower ends are more acute.

  • Galley

    An ancient vessel propelled by oars; frequently used in shields of naval officers.

  • Gambe

    An obsolete French word, signifying a leg, and is still used in Heraldry, for the leg of a lion or other creature borne in coats of arms.

  • Garbe

    The heraldic term for a sheaf of any kind of corn.

  • Garter

    One of the diminutives of the bend, being half the size. The insignia of the most noble order of the knights of the garter. It is formed of blue velvet edged with gold wire, and lined with white satin; on the velvet is embroidered the motto of the order.

  • Gauntlet

    Armour for the hand.

  • Gaze

    An intent look. This is said of a deer standing still, and turning its head to look earnestly at any object.

  • Gemels

    This word signifies double.

  • Golps

    Roundlets of a purple tincture. The colour is not stated, as the name denotes the colour.

  • Gorged

    Any animals, particularly birds, that have collars round the neck, are said to be gorged.

  • Griffin

    A chimerical animal, half bird, half beast.

  • Gryphon

    A chimerical animal, half bird, half beast.

  • Gueules

    The word for Red in French blazons.

  • Guidon

    A small semi-oval flag used in funeral processions. It is generally charged with the paternal arms of the deceased.

  • Gules

    Signifies red. It is represented in engraving by lines running parallel with each other, from the chief to the base.

  • Gutty

    A term derived from the Latin word gutta, a drop. A field bearing drops is called gutty.

  • Gyron

    A triangular figure formed by two lines from one of the angles of the shield to the centre.

  • Gyronny

    When the field is covered with gyrons, their points uniting in the centre.

  • Habergeon

    A coat of mail: it is also called a corslet and cuirass.

  • Habitied

    Clothed figures, either as charges or supporters, are said to be habited.

  • Harpy

    A chimerical animal, having the head and breast of a woman, and the body and legs of a bird.

  • Haurient

    A fish, in a perpendicular direction, with its head upwards.

  • Helmet

    This appears above the shield, and its typing position indicates the rank of the owner.
    An ancient piece of defensive armour for the head; it covered the face, leaving an aperture in the front, secured by bars: this was called the visor. The helmet is now placed over a coat of arms; and by the metal from which it is made, the form, and position, denotes the rank of the person whose arms are emblazoned beneath it.

    • The helmets of sovereigns are formed of burnished gold; those of princes and peers, of every degree, silver figured with gold; knights, esquires, and gentlemen, polished steel.
    • The helmets of the king, the royal family, and peers, are open-faced and grated: the number of bars served formerly to distinguish the bearer’s quality. The helmets of knights are open-faced, without bars. Esquires and gentlemen are known by the close helmet.
    • The position of the helmet is a mark of distinction. The direct front view of the grated helmet belongs to sovereign princes and dukes.
    • The grated helmet in profile is common to all degrees of peerage under a duke.
    • The helmet without bars, with the beaver open, standing directly fronting the spectator, denotes a knight.
    • The closed helmet seen in profile is appropriated to esquires and gentlemen.
  • Herald

    An officer at arms, whose business it is to declare war, proclaim peace, marshal all the solemnities at the coronation; baptisms, marriages, and funerals of the sovereign and nobility; and to ascertain and blazon coats of arms.

  • Hilted

    The handle of a sword tinctured.

  • Honour Point

    That part of the shield between the precise middle chief and the fess point.

  • Horned

    This term is used to denote that the horn of a unicorn is of a different tincture from his body.

  • Humet

    Humet is a rare term used to describe a Fess which is couped, so as to not touch the sides of the shield.

  • Humetty

    A term used to denote an ordinary, parts of which are couped or cut off, so that it does not touch the edges of the shield.

  • Hurts

    Blue roundlets: the colour is expressed in the name; therefore the tincture is not otherwise named in emblazoning a coat of arms.

  • Imbued

    Weapons spotted with blood are said to be imbued.

  • Impaled

    Two coats of arms, conjoined paleways, in one shield.

  • In Annulo

    Charges placed in a ring formation are said to be in annulo. The legendary Betsy Ross flag of the United States had thirteen stars in annulo.

  • In Bend

    Figures placed in a slanting direction from the dexter chief to the sinister base are said to be in bend.

  • Increscent

    The new moon, with her horns turned towards the dexter side of the shield.

  • Indented

    A serrated figure, much smaller than the dancette.

  • Inescutcheon

    The name given to small escutcheons forming a bearing of a coat of arms.

  • Invected

    A line formed with small semicircles, with the points turned inward. Any ordinary drawn with this line is called invected.

  • Issuant

    Rays or other charges proceeding from any part of the escutcheon.

  • Issuing

    Rays or other charges proceeding from any part of the escutcheon.

  • Lambrequin

    The flowing drapery forming the scroll-work displayed on either side of the helmet from beneath the wreath, representing the ancient covering of the helmet, used to protect it from stains or rust. When the mantling encloses the escutcheon, supporters, &c., it represents the robe of honour worn by the party whose shield it envelopes. This mantle is always described as doubled, that is, lined throughout with one of the furs, as ermine, pean, vary.

    This sweeps round from the top of the helmet and drapes each side of the shield. It is said that this is a representation of the mantle worn by a knight in warm climates for protection from the sun on the metal.

     

  • Mantling

    This sweeps round from the top of the helmet and drapes each side of the shield. It is said that this is a representation of the mantle worn by a knight in warm climates for protection from the sun on the metal.

    The flowing drapery forming the scroll-work displayed on either side of the helmet from beneath the wreath, representing the ancient covering of the helmet, used to protect it from stains or rust. When the mantling encloses the escutcheon, supporters, &c., it represents the robe of honour worn by the party whose shield it envelopes. This mantle is always described as doubled, that is, lined throughout with one of the furs, as ermine, pean, vary.

  • Motto

    They usually occur on a scroll normally placed beneath the shield or over the crest.

    A word or short sentence inserted in a scroll, which is generally placed beneath the escutcheon; in some instances it is placed above the crest. The motto frequently alludes to the name of the bearer of the arms, as the motto of the Right Honourable Lord Fortescue-FORTE SCUTUM SALUS DUCUM, a strong shield is the safety of commanders. Sometimes the motto is the watchword or war-cry in the battle where the original bearer won the honours that are retained by his descendants. Generally the motto is founded upon the piety, loyalty, valour, fortitude, &c. of the persons to whom arms were granted.

  • Shield

    The shield is the part of the achievement most people think in heraldry. It carries the special devices or objects, called charges, which make that particular coat-of-arms distinct from any other. The shield often appears by itself without any other parts of an achievement.

  • Surcoat

    coatarmourA loose garment worn over the armour of a knight; hence the term coat of arms. On this garment were emblazoned the armorial bearings of the wearer.

  • Torse

    A chaplet of two different-coloured silks wound round each other, and placed on the top of the helmet for the crest to rest upon.  A piece of twisted silk which covers the joint of the helmet and the crest.

  • Transparency

    The shadow of a charge, apart from the charge itself, painted the same colour as the field upon which it is placed, hut of a darker tint, or, perhaps, in outline only. The term belongs rather to the romance of heraldry than to its practice, and is imagined by the writers to have been adopted by families who, having lost their possessions, and consequently being unable to maintain their dignity, chose rather to bear their hereditary arms adumbrated than to relinquish them altogether. When figured by a black line the bearing is said to be entrailed.

  • Wreath

    A piece of twisted silk which covers the joint of the helmet and the crest. A chaplet of two different-colored silks wound round each other, and placed on the top of the helmet for the crest to rest upon.