A List of Common terms used in Heraldry


A LIST OF FAMILIAR TERMS USED IN HERALDRY VIEW OUR COAT OF ARMS / FAMILY CREST PRODUCTS HERE Addorsed. Back to back. Affront?. Full-faced. Annulet. A ring. In cadency for the fifth son. Antique crown. Triangular points rising from the band. Argent. Silver. Often indicated by white. At bay. A stag with head lowered. At gaze. A stag with face to the spectator is at gaze. Attired. Said of horns of stags when different in tincture from the body. Azure. Blue. Indicated by horizontal lines. Bar. A thin fess. Never used singly. Bar sinister. An error for Baton. Bars-gemelles. Thin bars in pairs. Barrulet. A thin bar. Barry. A shield of bars alternately tinctured. Base. The lower part of the shield. Baton. A thin bend sinister not long enough to touch either side of the shield. Often denoting illegitimacy. Belled. A falcon with bells attached to its legs is "belled." Bend. A band diagonally from the upper left (dexter) side of the shield to the lower right or sinister side. Properly one-third the width, but often less. Bewet. Ring or strap which attaches the bells to a hawk's leg. Bezant. A golden disc or roundel. Billet. An oblong rectangle. Bird-bolt. A blunt-headed arrow. Bordure. The outer fifth of the shield. A border. Botonn?. See Cross. Cabossed. The face of a horned beast, without the neck. Canton. A square in the dexter chief, less than a quarter. Cap of Maintenance or Chapeau. Of crimson velvet turned up to show ermine. Used under a crest. Chequy. A checker-board of colors and metals alternating. Chevron. A bend and a bend sinister springing from the lower sides and meeting. Chief. The top third of the shield. Cinquefoil. A five-lobed conventional leaf. Close. Said of a bird with wings at rest. Cockatrice. A monster with head, wings, and legs of a fowl and tail ended like an arrow head. A cock-headed wyvern. Combatant. Rampant and face to face. Compony. A single row of squares alternating color and metal. Conjoined. Touching one another. Of wings, with the points down. Contourn?. Facing the sinister side of the shield -- the beholder's right. Cotised. Having diminutives on either side. As a bend cotised. Couchant. Lying down with head raised. Counter-changed. Part of the shield metal on color and the corresponding part color on metal. Counter compony. Two rows of squares, metal adjoining color. Counter-embattled. The projection on one side opposite the indentation on the other side. Counter passant. Going in opposite directions. Couped. Cut off clean. Courant. Running Crenell?. Embattled. Crescent. A crescent moon with horns up. In cadency for the second son. Crest. A device above the helmet and shield. Used by men only. Crined. Colored. Said of hair when differing in color from the body. Cross. Botonn?, Trefoil ends. Calvary. A cross on three steps. Crosslet fitch?. Three ends crossed, and one pointed. Fleury. Ending in three leaves or a fleurs-de-lys top. Forme. See Patt?. Moline. The ends with two leaves or foils. Patonce. Fleury but with extremities enlarged. Patt?. As if a square with diagonal slits from the corners. Potent. The ends capped by bars at right angles. St. Andrews. A saltire. Crusilly. The field strewn with small crosses. Cubit arm. Hand with arm cut off at elbow. Dancett?. Deep indentations. Debruised. Partly covered. Decrescent. A crescent with horns toward the sinister side. Dexter. The side of the shield near the right arm as worn, or the left side as seen by the spectator. All faces are turned to the dexter unless otherwise described. Diapering. Faint decorations on large surfaces for looks only. Not now much used. Dismembered. Cut in pieces but left in position. Displayed. The underside of the body exposed and the wings extended. Dormant. With head between paws. Double-queued. With two ends to a tail. Dragon. A monster with scaly body, four birds claws, bat's wings, and head with barbed tongue. Embattled. Alternating square projections and spaces on a line. Embowed. Bent, especially of an arm and of a dolphin. Endorse. One-quarter the width of a pale. Enfiled. Pierced by a sword, arrow, etc. Engrailed. An edge with semi-circular incisions, close together. Eradicated. Torn up by the roots. Ermine. A fur. The nose and front paws (it is said) shown by three sable dots on a field argent; the tail and hind legs conjoined below the dots or perhaps a tail erased. Ermines. Silver ermine spots on a black field. Erminois. Black ermine spots on a gold field. Estoile. A star with six or more wavy points. Face. Usually a full face without neck; cabossed. Fess. A band across the shield. One-third as wide as the height of the shield in theory. Fessways. Arranged across the shield. Fimbriated. Bordered with a different tinctured narrow band. Fire ball. A bomb spouting flames from the top. Fitch?. Pointed, as one arm of a cross. Flaunches. A section from each side of the shield enclosed by a convex line. Fleur-de-lys. A conventionalized lily. In cadency for the sixth son. Fleury. Flory. A fleur-de-lys end. Form?. See Cross. Fountain. A roundel or disc covered by six wavy bars alternating argent and azure. Fret. A narrow saltire and mascle interlaced. Fructed. With fruit or seeds. Fulgent. Showing rays. Furs. See the Introduction. Fusil. A long narrow lozenge or a spinning wheel spindle. Galley. An ancient ship, usually of 2 or 3 masts. Gamb. A beast's leg. Garb. A sheaf of grain. Garnished. Ornamented. Gauntlet. An armored glove. Gaze. See At gaze. Gemels. See Bars-gemelles. Gilly-flower. A crimson species of pink. Gobony. See Compony. Gold. See Or. Gorge. A whorl argent and azure, supposed to represent a whirlpool. Goutt?s. Drops; Goutt?e, sprinkled with drops; de sang with red drops of blood. Griffin or Gryphon. A monster with the front half an eagle, the hinder half a lion. Guardant. With the face full. Gules. Red. Shown in black by perpendicular lines. Gyronny. A shield divided per pale, per fess, and per saltire into gyrons. Habited. Clothed. Harpy. A monster, the upper half of a woman attached to the body of a vulture. Hatchment. A shield of arms on a sable lozenge displayed after death. In the case of impaled arms only the section back of the arms of the deceased is sable. Hauriant. A fish when erect or in pale -- breathing at the surface. Head. Usually indicating head and neck. Helmet. An esquire's or gentleman's helmet is of steel, faces the dexter, and has the visor closed. Humett?. Objects cut off so that they do not reach the edges of the shield. Hurt. A blue roundel. Impaled. The shield may be divided per pale, with the husband's arms on the dexter side (impaling) the wife's arms on the sinister side. In bend. Running or lying in the direction of the bend. In chief. At the top of the shield. In fess. Horizontally in relation to the shield. In pale. Upright. In her piety. A pelican is "in her piety" when she is feeding her young with blood pecked from her breast. In splendor. The sun with rays all around it. Increscent. A crescent with horns pointing to the dexter. Ink moline. See Mill-rind. Inescutcheon. See Pretence. Invected. An engrailed line upside down. Issuant. Rising out of. Usually the upper half only is shown. Jellop. Wattles and comb of a cock. Jessant. Springing forth. Jess. Strap attached to a hawk's leg. If a ring or varvel is on the end, the swivel of a leash can be snapped on. Label. A strip of silk or linen with 3 pendants. In cadency the eldest son, and said to have been worn by him as part of a collar in tourneys. Lambrequin. See Mantle. Langued. The tongue when colored (usually red), and different from the body. Leopard. See Lion. Lion. In old heraldry "lions" were always rampant or rearing. When passant or statant they were "leopards." Lioncel. A young lion or of four or more lions on one shield. Lodged... Pegasus. A horse with wings. Pelican. A fish-eating bird with large bill. See also " In her piety." Pellet. A black roundle. Pheon. The barbed point of an arrow, the inner edge commonly engrailed. Phoenix. A sacred bird that burned itself on... Sejant. Sitting. Sem? . Strewn. Also "poudr?." Shoveler. A large duck frequenting rivers. Sinister. The side of a shield at the right hand of the observer, but the left as worn by the soldier. Sinople. Green or vert. Slipped....


Family Crest Gifts

Page Last Updated: July 13th, 2016

A coat of arms / family crest is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and/or to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the full heraldic achievement which consists of shield, supporters, crest and motto. The design is a symbol unique to an individual person, and to his family, corporation, or state. Such displays are commonly called armorial bearings, armorial devices, heraldic devices, or simply armorials or arms.

Note: A Coat of Arms is sometimes referred to as a FAMILY SHIELD, CODE OF ARMS, FAMILY SEAL OR FAMILY CREST

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