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Heraldic Terms A-C

A guide to words and terms used in Heraldry

A to C D to J K to Q R to Z
Term Meaning
Abbess The senior member of a female religious house.
Abbey A building housing a society of monkks or nuns.
Abbot The senior member of a male religious house.
Achievement of Arms The complete assemblage of Heraldic accessories assigned to an individual, corpotation or state.
Acorned Of the acorns of an oak, in separate specified colour.
Addorsed Of beasts or charges, back to back.
Affronty Of a charge, facing the observer.
Angles Of a line of partition, set at an angle.
Annulet A ring.
Antelope, Heraldic A monster with the body of an antelope, two horns, a manr and long tail.
Apalmy Of a hand or gauntlet, open to show the palm.
Arch (Archy) Of a line of partition, in the form of an arch.
Argent The colour silver or white, a tincture and a metal
Armed Of a human being or limb, clothed in armour; the claws, beak, horns or tusks of a creature, in a separate, specified colour.
Armet A totally enclosed, close-fitting, helmet with opening front.
Armiger Aperson entitled to bear arms.
Armorial A book listing armorial bearings alphabetically by the names of the bearers
Armorial bearings The symbols born by an armiger his coat armour, shield and banner to distinguish him from others.
Artistic supporter Supporter with no Heraldic significance, added for effect.
Attired With antlers.
Attributed arms Armorial bearings given to people who existed before Heraldry and to celestial and legendary figures.
Augmentation An additional charge or device awarded to an armiger as a reward for merit in some field or to commemorate a specific event.
Azure The colour blue, a tincture.
Badge An Heraldic device belonging to an armiger, worn by his retainers and sympathizers
Banner A square of rectangular flag upon which armorial bearings are displayed.
Bar A narrow strip on the shield in a horizontal plane (barry, with several such strips)
Bar gemel Horizontal bars, arranged in pairs.
Barbed With roses this refers to the leaves enclosing the bud which appear between the petals of an open rose, and if blazoned proper Vert is shown. Alternatively, the point of a sharp weapon.
Barry Said of a field or charge divided horizontally into an even number of stripes.
Base The lower portion of the shield.
Basilisk A Heraldic monster, a reptile said to be hatched by a serpent from a cock's egg.
Bath, Knights of the Active order of knights in Great Britain, in civil and military divisions.
Battled (Embattled) Of a line of partition, having a crenellated edge like a battlement.
Baton A narrow, diagonal band not reaching the edge of the shield, in England sometimes in the form of the baton sinister, a mark of illegitimacy.
Beaked Of a bird, in a separate specified colour.
Belled With bells, attached to a hawk's leg for hawking, in a separate specified colour
Bend A diagonal strip on the shield from sinister to dexter top, an ordinary 'per bend', divided in the same place. 'in bend', charges placed in this plane.
Bend sinister A diagonal strip on the shield from dexter to sinister top.
Bendlet A narrow bend.
Bendwise Of charges when shown at the same angle as a bend.
Bendy Covered with an even number of bends.
Bevelled Of a line of partition, broken so as to have two equally acute, alternate angles.
Bezant (Byzant) A gold roundle representing a coin.
Bezanty Covered with gold coins.
Bicorporate Two bodies joined to one head.
Billet A rectangular shape, placed on end, rep[resenting a block of wood, usually used in large numbers to cover a field.
Billety Covered with billets.
Blazon The written description of armorial bearings; 'to blazon' is to describe armorial bearings in words.
Bleu celeste The colour sky blue, a tincture.
Bonicon A mythical beast.
Bordure A narrow band around the edge of the shield.
Botony With ends like a clover leaf.
Bouget Two water carriers hanging from a yoke.
Caboshed Of a head, front-facing and cut off behind the ears.
Cadence The difference between the main bearer of arms in a family and cadet, or junior branches; a system of small additions and alterations to the shield to show this.
Caltrap (Caltrop) A spiked device strewn on the ground to maim horses, used as a charge.
Calvary cross One of the forms of the cross, shown on three steps.
Cameleopard A giraffe.
Canting Armorial bearings that in their concept and design include some reference or allusion to the name of the bearer.
Canton A square section, smaller than a quartering in the top dexter or sinister corner of the shield; a sub-ordinary.
Centaur A monster, half man and half horse.
Celestial crown An Heraldic crown.
Chain Separate links appearing as charges; sometimes a chain of office or of an order; when it is known as collars.
Chapeau A hat with a turned-up lining of fur, placed over the helm on which the crest stands; symbolic of especial dignity.
Chaplet Synonumous with floral wreath, e.g. chaplet of roses.
Charge Any device placed upon a shield or upon another item.
Chequey (Checky) Of a shield or charge, covered all over with equal-sized squares, in two alternating colours, set in many rows.
Cherub The lowest order of the heavenly host; shown as a boy's face over two wings.
Chevalier A rank in French-speaking countries, equivalent to an English knight or German ritter.
Chevron A V-shaped strip, inverted, an ordinary 'Per chevron', the field or any area of colour divided as by a chevron.
Chevronels A bent bar on an escutcheon, half the breadth of the chevron; a small chevron
Chevronny The field divided into an equal number of chevron-shaped areas.
Chief The top section of the shield; an ordinary; ('in chief', of charges placed in this area on a shield).
Cinquefoil A stylized flower, with five petals.
Circlet A riband placed around a shield bearing a motto, usually of one of the orders of knighthood.
Close Of a winged creature, when standing on the ground with its wings shut.
Coat armour A heavy, flowing, padded coat worn by knights to protect them from sword cuts, on which were painted their armorial bearings.
Coat of Arms A synomynous term for coat armour; now come to mean that which was painted on the coat, the armorial bearings. Because these are nowadays shown on a shield, a shield with armorial bearings painted on it is known as a Coat of Arms.
Cockatrice A mythological Heraldic monster, synonymous with a basilisk.
Coiled Of a snake, ready to strike.
Collar A chain of office of one of the orders of knighthood.
Collared Of a beast with a collar around its neck; synonymous with 'gorged'; not a chain of an order, unles specified.
College of Arms The building in London where English Heralds have their chambers.
Colours The tinctures of Heraldry that represent red, blue, green, black and purple.
Combatant Two beasts or humans fighting each other.
Compartment A representation of the ground or whatever on which the supporters, shield and motto stand.
Compony Of a row of squares of two alternating, colours, synonymous with 'gobony'. See counter company and chequey.
Coronel Crown-shaped tip of a lance, used in jousting to prevent injury.
Coronet A metal, decorated headwear, symbolic of rank.
Cotise A narrow band placed outside, and separate from, a wider band; can be found in multiples, specified; 'double cottice' should not be confused with bar gemel.
Couchant Of an animal, lying down with head erect.
Couche Of a shield, means it is shown at an angle.
Counter Opposite
Counter-charged A charge placed upon a divided field with the tinctures reversed.
Counter-compony Of two rows of differently coloured square sections arranged alternately.
Couped Of anything, cut off cleanly, for example an arm, head or branch.
Courant (current) Running.
Coward Of a beast or monster with its tail between its legs.
Cowed Of a beast, with its tail between its legs.
Crancelin A crown in the form of an ornamental arched bend.
Crane Usually shown 'in its vigilence', with a stone in its claw.
Crescent A representation of the moon, shown with both horns upright (see also increscent and decrescent).
Crest A decorative accessory placed on the helmet.
Crested Of the crest, in a separate specified colour.
Crined With head-hair or mane, in a separate specified colour.
Cross A horizontal and vertical band, each of the same colour, placed centrally on a shield; an ordinary,('per cross', the field of the shield divided horizontally and vertically into four equal parts, synonymous with 'quarterly'; 'in cross', repeated charges placed upon a shield in a cross formation).
Crosslet A small cross with the end of each arm itself crossed.
Crown (Heraldic) A symbolic charge used to denote an interest in a particular activity.
Crozier A ceremonial staff, symbolizing the role of a shepherd, used by a bishop.
Crusily Covered all over with little crosses.
Cubit arm An arm cut off cleanly between the hand and the elbow.
Cuffed Of the turned-up cuff of a sleeve, in its separate specified colour.
Cup Usually shown covered, and often seen in Heraldry of families named Butler.
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