Glossary of Heraldic Terms
Achievement: A fully marshaled coat of arms
Argent: Silver; in color, white
Armiger: One entitled to bear heraldic arms
Bend: A figure formed by two parallel lines, drawn from the dexter chief to the sinister base; it is one third of the field in width.
Bezants: Gold roundles
Bezantée: Strewed with bezants
Billets: Figures of an oblong square form
Bordure: A uniform edge to a shield, occupying one fifth of the field
Charged: A figure bearing any device upon it is said to be charged therewith.
Chevron: A division of a shield shaped like the lower half of a saltire and occupying one third of one fifth of the area, according to whether it is charged or not
Chief: The upper portion of the shield, one-third of the latter in width, separated from the field by a horizontal line
Cinquefoil: The five-leaved grass
Chequy: Used of a field covered with small squares of alternate tincture
Counterflory: A tressure fiory in which the alternate fleurs-de-lys are reversed
Couped: Term used when the head or limb of an animal or any other charge is cut off by an even line
Crined: Used to describe the beard of hair when different in color from the body
Cross-crosslet: A cross having its arms crossed by a short bar at a little distance from their extremities
Dancettée: Applied to lines whose teeth or indents are larger and wider than those of a line indented
Demi: Half, the top half being understood when no other is mentioned
Dexter: Right; the right-hand side of the escutcheon, but the left to the spectator
Ducal coronet: A coronet composed of four leaves of equal height above the rim
Embowed: Bent or bowed
Engrailed: Indented in curved lines
Escallop: The shell of the scallop, or escallop-fish
Escutcheon of pretence: The shield on which a man bears his wife’s arms if she is an heiress. It is borne in the center of his own shield and is usually of the same shape.
Feathered: Used of arrows whose flights are a different color from the shafts
Fess: A figure formed by two horizontal lines drawn across the shield; it is one-third of the field in width and is always placed in the center.
Fesswise: Placed like a fess
Field: The surface of the escutcheon, or shield
Finned: Having fins
Fitcheé: Pointed; sharpened to a point
Flory, fleury, flurty or floretty: Flowered with fleurs-de-lys
Gambs: The leg of an animal from the knee joint
Garbs: A sheaf or any kind of grain; when other than wheat the kind must be stated
Guttée: Sprinkled with drops
Heads: Usually have their posture stated; affronté when in profile, guardant when full-faced and regardant when looking backwards; head on its own implies in profile.
Helm: A helmet
Mantle: The cloak on which achievements are painted
Mascle: A hollowed-out lozenge
Mantlings: Ornamented foliage-work for adorning helmets in painting armorial bearings
Mural crown or coronet: A circle of gold, crenellated like a battlement
Per: Used to show how a shield, ordinary, or charge is divided by any of the partition lines, as per bend, per pale, etc.
Proper: Used of objects when shown in their natural colors
Quartered: A shield, charge, or crest, divided into four equal parts by two lines crossing each other at right angles, is termed quartered; each of these parts is a quarter. However, a shield so designated must contain but two coats of arms, the first and fourth quarters being the same, and the second and third quarters being alike. If this is not the case, the shield is said to be quarterly, even though it has but four divisions.
Rampant: Denoting an animal when represented as standing erect on its hind legs
Saltire: An X-shaped cross
Seax: A scimitar with a semi-circular notch on the back of the blade
Sinister: Left; the left-hand side of the escutcheon, but the right to the spectator
Supporters: Figures placed on either side of a shield
Torse: The wreath on which the crest is placed
Vulning: Wounded so that blood appears
Wavy: A line of partition formed like waves
Vermont, E. De V., illustrated by Henry Rykers. America Heraldica: A Compilation of Coats of Arms, Crests and Mottoes of Prominent American Families Settled in This County Before 1800. New York: Brentano Brothers, 1887.
Burke’s Peerage and Gentry Online: A-Z Guide to Heraldic Terms.
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