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Abased Applied to an ordinary, or other charge, that occupies a lower position than usual in the shield.
Abatement Term for certain armorial symbols or charges that were marks of dishonor in some countries.
Accosted Placed side by side.
Achievement A complete display of armorial bearings, including the shield with arms, the crest displayed on the helm, the supporters that flank and hold the shield, the mantling, and the motto, if any.
Addorsed Two animals, birds, etc., back to back.
Affronty Describes charges, generally animals, shown with head and body facing the spectator.
Aile/Aislé Winged.
Alerion A young eagle displayed without beak or legs.
Angled Having figures in the angles.
Annulet A ring or circle with an open center; as a mark of cadency, it indicates a fifth son.
Argent The heraldic color silver.
Armed Describes claws, horns, talons, etc.
Armiger A person entitled to bear heraldic arms.
Armorial bearings A heraldic achievement.
Arms Applies to the shield and its charges.
Attired Used instead of armed for horns of a deer.
Azure The heraldic term for the color blue.
Balls The color must be specified, and they are shaded in contrast to bezants and plates, which are flat and sometimes figured.
Banded Encircled with a band, applied to sheaves of arrows, and to garbs when tied of another color.
Bar One of the ordinaries: a horizontal band narrower than a fess; usually used when two or three are charged on a field.
Bar sinister A diagonal bar running from the top right to the lower left; the mark of bastardy.
Barbed Describes leaves between petals or of the head of an arrow or spear.
Barbel A fish noted for the whisker-like sense organs around its mouth. Bar in French.
Barruly/Burely A barry field of ten or more divisions.
Barry Covered with equally spaced horizontal bars.
Barry-bendy Divided into lozenge-shaped pieces by horizontal and diagonal lines intersecting.
Bar-wise Horizontally.
Base The bottom third of a shield.
Basilisk Mythical monster resembling a wyvern with a dragon’s head at the end of its tail.
Baton A coupled bendlet.
Beaked Describes a bird whose beak has a different tincture from its body.
Bend One of the ordinaries: a broad diagonal band from the dexter chief to the sinister base of the shield.
Bend sinister A broad band descending from the sinister chief to the dexter base, dividing the shield into two equal parts.
Bendlet A narrow band (see bend).
Bendy Covered with equally spaced bends.
Between Describes the main charge of a shield when secondary ones appear on either side.
Bezant/Besant A gold plate or a flat piece of gold without impression.
Bezanty Semy of bezants.
Billet A small rectangular figure placed vertically.
Billety Semy of billets.
Blazon The technical description of armorial bearings.
Bordure A narrow border around the edge of a shield.
Bottony Applied to crosses, crosslets, etc., whose arms end in a trefoil shape.
Bretressed Embattled counterembattled when the inward and outward embattlements lie opposite each other.
Buckle Stylized charge in the form of a buckle.
Cabossed/Caboshed The head of an animal or bird, without neck, facing the viewer.
Cabré A term applied to a horse salient.
Cadency marks A means of distinguishing among brothers or among descendants of various brothers. The most often encountered are the label, crescent, mullet, martlet, and annulet.
Canting arms Armorial devices or compositions that allude in a punning way to the bearer’s arms (e.g., a lion for Leon).
Canton A small square, usually in the dexter chief (to the viewer, the upper-left corner).
Cartouche An oval shield.
Chapé See tierced.
Chapé ployé See tierced in mantle.
Charge Any design placed or superimposed on the field of a coat of arms.
Charged Applied to a field, ordinary, or other bearing, upon which a charge is placed.
Chequy/Checky A pattern of squares in alternating colors, like a checkerboard.
Chevron One of the ordinaries: a broad inverted “V” across the shield.
Chevronny Describes a shield and its charges divided into an even number of equal chevrons of alternate tinctures.
Chief The upper third of the field of a shield.
Cinquefoil A five-petaled leaf or flower.
Cockatrice See basilisk.
Colour Generic term that refers only to gules, sable, azure, vert, and purpure (that is, not metals or furs).
Combatant Fighting; said of two lions or other beasts rampant face to face.
Compartment The representation of the ground or other surface upon which the supporters, shield, and motto stand.
Compony/Gobony Describes ordinaries divided into equal square or rectangular compartments of alternate tinctures.
Conjoined Joined together.
Contourné Describes an animal whose body and head face to the sinister.
Coronet A support for a crest that is shaped like a crown.
Cotise A narrow band on each side of a charge such as a bar or bend.
Couchant Of an animal (usually a lion or dog): lying on its stomach, forelegs stretched out, hind legs curled beneath, and head erect.
Counter-change A reversal of the tinctures.
Counter-compony Two adjacent rows, checkerboard pattern.
Couped Cut off with a straight edge (as of a head).
Courant Running.
Crampons Hooks used in building, usually borne singly but in pairs in British armory.
Crancelin A crown of rue or arched wreath placed in bend seen especially in the arms of Saxony.
Crenellated See embattled.
Crescent A half-moon pointing upward; as a mark of cadency, the sign of a second son.
Crest An identifying device on top of a helm.
Cross One of the ordinaries: a composite of a pale and a fess.
(a) Calvary cross A long cross placed on steps (on a blazon, the number of steps or degrees must be stated).
(b) Cross-crosslet A cross with each of its limbs crossed.
(c) Cross flory A cross, the ends of which are fleurs-de-lis.
(d) Cross moline A cross with limbs splayed at the ends.
(e) Cross paty A splayed cross with straight ends.
(f) Cross potent Describes crutch-shaped limbs.
(g) Tau cross A cross that has no upper limb with others slightly splayed.
Crown of rue See crancelin.
Crowned Describes animals wearing a crown.
Crusily Spattered with cross-crosslets.
Dancetty/Dancetté Continuous line of broad zigzags.
Debruised The term employed when a bend, fess, or other ordinary is placed across an animal or other charge, which is then said to be debruised by the ordinary.
Dexter The right side. When applied to a shield, it refers to the portion that would be to the right for a person carrying it. It is therefore that portion to the viewer’s left.
Diaper A pattern or design that covers otherwise plain areas of the field or charges.
Diapered Covered with fret-work or floral enrichment of a color differing from the rest of the bearing.
Differencing Describes various methods of altering a coat of arms to distinguish it from similar arms.
Dimidiation Method of impalement in which the dexter half of one coat of arms is joined to the sinister half of the other.
Displayed Birds of prey placed affronté with expanded wings and extended legs.
Double-headed Having two heads, often describing the eagle.
Embattled Having battlements like the wall of a fortress; the pieces projecting upward are called merlons, the intervening spaces embrasures (also termed crenellated).
Embattlement With an indented edge looking like battlements.
Embowed Describes charges with curved or bent edges.
En soleil Displayed over the rays of a sun.
Enfiled Encircled or environed.
Engrailed A line of semi-circles pointing outward.
Ensign A square flag.
Equipped Fully armed and caparisoned; rigged.
Eradicated Torn up by the roots; applied to trees and plants.
Erased Cut off raggedly; the jagged ends of a neck, usually of an animal or bird.
Erect In a vertical or upright position.
Ermine One of the heraldic furs: white, powdered with black ermine tails.
Escallop Seashell of a scallop pattern.
Escarbuncle The term applied to a bearing that originated in the iron bands radiating from the center of an ancient shield and serving to strengthen it.
Escutcheon A small shield.
Estoille A five-pointed star with wavy edges.
Fess One of the ordinaries: a broad horizontal band across the middle of the field.
Fess point The point in the center of the shield.
Field The basic surface of the shield on which charges are placed. When blazoning, the field is always stated first.
Figured A term applied to the sun, crescents, coins, etc., when they contain a human face; and to bezants or plates stamped like a coin.
Fimbriated Having a narrow border.
Fitchy/Fitché/Fitched Pointed end to the lower limb of a cross.
Fleur-de-lis The cadency mark of a sixth son.
Fleury Spattered with fleurs-de-lis.
Flory Fleurs-de-lis at the limb ends of a cross.
Foliated Having leaves.
Formy See paty.
Fret A mascle interlaced by a bendlet dexter and a bendlet sinister (i.e., a voided diamond with diagonal bands running through it).
Fretty A field covered by interlaced bendlets and bendlets sinister.
Furnished Equipped or provided with sails, ropes, etc.
Furs Tinctures representing in a conventional and stylized manner the pelts with which combatants sometimes covered their shields in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The two main furs are vair and ermine.
Fusil An elongated lozenge; a pattern of horizontal fusils is fusilly.
Fusilly See fusil.
Garb A wheat sheaf.
Gardant Full-faced.
Garnished Ornamented.
Golpe A purple roundel.
Gorged Wearing a collar.
Gorget A collar, chain, etc., round the neck of an animal or bird.
Griffin/Gryphon A mythical monster: eagle in front, lion behind. The female griffin has wings; the male has none.
Guardant Looking toward the viewer.
Gules The heraldic color red.
Gyron A triangular sector of the shield formed by half a bend line and half a fess line meeting in the middle of the field.
Gyronny The field is divided into eight segments by lines in pale, fess, bend, and bend sinister.
Habited Clothed, vested.
Hauriant The position of a fish in vertical position, head upward.
Helm/Helmet A traditional part of a heraldic achievement.
Honor point The upper middle part of a shield.
Hoofed Having the hooves of a particular tincture (distinguish from unguled, which applies only to beasts with cloven feet.)
Impaled Coats conjoined paleways, that is, by dividing the shield into two parts by a perpendicular line and placing one coat on each side thereof. On a shield, the husband’s arms are displayed to the viewer’s left, the wife’s to the right.
In bend Diagonally.
In fess Horizontally, across the center of the field.
In orle Following along the inside edge of a shield.
In pale Centrally, one above the other.
Indented Continuous line of narrow zigzags.
Inescutcheon A shield placed as a charge on another shield.
Invected A line of semi-circles pointing inward.
Jessant/Issuant Issuing or emerging from.
Kleestängel (Trefoil) A trefoil with extended, curved stem applied to the wings of an eagle, especially in German heraldry.
Label Horizontal band at the top across other charges, usually with three pendant ribbons. It has been used as a mark of difference. As a cadency mark, it is the sign of an eldest son.
Lambrequin See mantling.
Langued Describes the tongue of an animal or bird when it is of a different tincture from the rest of a beast or bird, or from that usually employed.
Legged Applied when the legs of a bird differ in tincture from the rest of the body.
Lines of partition Generic term for geometrical shapes formed by lines of partition (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal) that divide the shield into an even number of equal parts of alternate tinctures.
Lozenge A diamond-shaped figure.
Lozengy A field covered with or divided into lozenges.
Luce/Lucy A pike fish.
Mantling Originally a cloth cap worn from the back of the helmet to protect the metal from the sun. It is shown on an achievement as drapery hanging from the helm, falling away on either side of the shield of arms.
Marshalling Combining more than one coat of arms.
Martlet A mythical bird without legs, like a martin or swallow. As a mark of cadency, it signifies a fourth son.
Mascle A lozenge with an open or voided center.
Maunch A lady’s sleeve with a long pendant lappet or cuff.
Melusine A mermaid.
Membered Describes a bird’s legs.
Mill rind/Fer-de-moline The iron centerpiece of a millstone; a stylized charge formed of two “C”-shaped hooks.
Mullet/Molet A five-pointed star with straight rays. If the star has more than five rays, the fact must be specified. When it represents the rowel of a spur, its center is pierced. As a mark of cadency, it signifies a third son.
Mount Applied to a stylized charge in a crest depicting a mound or hill, especially one in the base of a shield.
Naiant Describes a fish swimming fessways or horizontally.
Naissant Describes a charge that issues from the middle of a fess or other ordinary.
Nebuly Curved or wavy lines.
Nimbus A halo.
Octofoil A double quatrefoil. A cadency mark for the ninth son.
Ogress A black roundel.
Or The heraldic color gold.
Ordinaries The ten simplest and oldest charges (e.g., chief, fess, pale, bend, chevron, pile, cross, saltire, pall, bar).
Orle A bordure inside the shield that does not reach the edges.
Over all Describes a charge superimposed on other charges.
Pale One of the ordinaries; a perpendicular band down the middle of the field.
Pall One of the ordinaries; a “T”-shaped figure.
Pallet A diminutive of the pale; applied when more than one pale appears on a field.
Paly Describes a shield, ordinaries, lines of partition, and any charges divided vertically into an even number of equal parts of alternate tinctures.
Party Formerly used with per to denote a field or charge that is divided by a line drawn in the direction of the ordinary named: per bend, fess, pale, etc. See per.
Passant Describes an animal in walking position, with three paws on the ground, right forepaw raised, head forward, and tail curved over the back.
Passant-gardant Denotes a beast that is walking forward with its head affronté, i.e., facing the viewer.
Paty Splayed cross with straight limb ends (also formy).
Pellet A black roundel.
Per The phrases used to indicate that the field or charge is divided by a line drawn in the direction of the ordinary named.
(a) Per bend The field is divided diagonally from top left to bottom right (as seen by the viewer).
(b) Per chevron The field is divided by a chevron.
(c) Per fess The field is divided horizontally across the center.
(d) Per pale The shield is divided vertically up the middle.
(e) Per saltire The shield is divided "X"-wise.
Pheon An arrowhead with its inner edges engrailed.
Pierced A charge with a round hole in the center.
Pile One of the ordinaries consisting of a triangular wedge emerging from the chief or, when reversed, the base.
Plate A silver roundel.
Point The base of a shield.
Pomey A green roundel.
Potent Crutch-shaped; a variety of the armorial fur vair. See cross potent.
Powdered See semé/semée/semy/powdered.
Proper In natural appearance and color.
Purpure The heraldic color purple.
Quartered Divided into quarters or quarterings.
Quarterings Different coats, not necessarily four in number, combined in one escutcheon to denote descent and/or territorial rule.
Quatrefoil A four-petaled leaf or flower.
Queue fourché Having a double tail often intertwined.
Queue fourché en saltire Having a forked and crossed tail.
Radiant Shining with rays.
Raguly A line in the pattern.
Rampant Describes an erect animal, with one paw on the ground, three paws raised, head forward, and tail erect.
Rampant guardant The rampant position but with the head toward the viewer.
Rampant reguardant The rampant position but with the head looking back over the shoulders.
Rayonnant Adorned with beams of light.
Rays Of the sun, sixteen in number.
Rebus A device that is a pictorial pun on the name of the bearer.
Regalienfeld An empty red field in a compound field of arms, usually at the base. It indicates certain powers to which the bearer of the arms, usually a head of state, is entitled.
Roundel A circular disc. Roundels have been given different names: bezant, a gold roundel; plate, silver; torteau, red; pomey, green; pellet, black; and golpe, purple.
Sable The heraldic color black.
Salient Describes the position of an animal with both hind paws on the ground, ready to leap.
Saltire One of the ordinaries; two crossed diagonal arms, like the letter “X.”
Scallop See escallop.
Seeded Describes seed vessels of a flower. Also applied to a pomegranate.
Segreant Applied to a wyvern or griffin when represented rampant with endorsed or expanded wings.
Sejant Sitting.
Semé/semée/semy/powdered Spattered or strewn with an unspecified number of charges.
Sinister The left side. When applied to a shield, it refers to the portion that would be to the left for a person carrying it. Thus, it is that portion to the viewer’s right.
Sixfoil A flower-like charge with six petals.
Slipped Having a slip or stalk torn off from the stem; applied to leaves and flowers.
Soutiens See supporters.
Splendor A term applied to the sun irradiated and having a human face.
Statant Describes an animal standing, all feet on the ground.
Stringed Said of a musical instrument with cords or strings; also of the cord or belt of a bugle or post horn.
Subordinaries Heraldic charges also of frequent use, but not so important as the primary ordinaries. The distinction is arbitrary.
Sun Usually shown with long, wedge-shaped rays that are alternately straight and wavy, and with a human face. It is typically blazoned a sun in his splendor.
Supporters Describes the figures around a shield and appearing to support it. In French heraldry, some theorists distinguish among human supporters (tenants), beasts (supports), and inanimate objects or plants (soutiens).
Supports See supporters.
Talbot A hunting dog with hanging ears.
Tau A cross in the shape of a “T.”
Tenants See supporters.
Tierced Divided into three approximately equal areas in the form of a “Y”; applied to the field.
Tierced in mantle The same as tierced but with the “Y” inverted and the lines arched.
Tincture Refers to colors, metals, and fur in a blazon.
Torteau A red roundel.
Trefoil A three-petaled, flowerlike figure.
Tressure-flory A small single orle ornamented with fleurs-de-lis, all the heads of which point outward, and the stalks inward.
Trippant Describes a stag passant.
Tun A barrel, frequently used in canting or punning arms.
Undy Wavy.
Unguled Having hooves; applied to stags, unicorns, bulls, etc., whose cloven feet are of a different tincture from the rest of the body.
Vair One of the heraldic furs, meant to depict a squirrel skin or several squirrel skins stitched together. Conventionally shown by a bell-shaped pattern with alternating pieces of blue and white.
Vert The heraldic color green.
Vested Clothed.
Virolé See banded.
Volant Flying.
Water bags/Water bougets As a charge, a stylized version of two leather water bags supported by a yoke.
Wavy Undulating.
Wreath A cord of six twists alternating in color between that of the helm and that of the crest.
Wyvern Similar to a dragon but without rear legs, its hind quarters being those of a serpent and ending in a barbed tail.

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This glossary is adapted from “A Glossary of Heraldic Terms” (hamline.edu/offices/archives/brass-rubbings/heraldic-terms) and from glossaries of heraldic terms in Michel Pastoureau, Heraldry: Its Origins and Meaning (London, 1997), and in volume 1 of John Woodward, A Treatise on Heraldry: British and Foreign (Edinburgh and London, 1896).