English heraldry is the form of coats of arms and other heraldic bearings and insignia used in England. It lies within the Gallo-British tradition. Coats of arms in England are regulated and granted to individuals by the College of Arms. They are subject to a system of cadency to distinguish between sons of the original holder of the coat of arms. The English heraldic style is exemplified in the arms of British royalty, and is reflected in the arms civic arms of cities and towns, as well as the noble arms of individuals in England. Royal orders in England, such as the Order of the Garter, also maintain notable heraldic bearings.
Acroc – A hook or clasp.
Adargue – A heart-shaped buckler.
Agrafe – A large brooch for fastening cloak or robe.
Agraffes – Hooks and eyes used for armor and also for ordinary costume.
Aguinia – Machines or engines of war.
Ailettes or Aiglets – Little wings; metal tips sheathing the ends of the laces
or points used for tying the different parts of a costume together.
Alarica – A heavy triangular-shaped spear.
Alberia – A shield without armorial bearings.
Alemele – The lame or blade of the sword. (Fr.)
Allerion – An eagle displayed but without beak and legs.
Ameure – A dagger.
Anelace – A heavy, broad-bladed, sharp-pointed, double-edged knife, worn
primarily by civilians.
Annulet – A ring.
Antelope – The heraldic antelope has serrated horns, a beak, tufts on the body,
and a lion’s tail.
Antia – The handle of the buckler.
Apaume – Hand or gauntlet, open and showing the palm.
Arafe – A large brooch for fastening cloak or robe.
Arcon – The saddle-bow.
Arest de lance – Vamplate, later the lance-rest.
Armed – Used to refer to the claws, talons, tusks, and suchlike of creatures
when of a different tincture from the body. Also used of parts of the human body
when encased in armor.
Armet – A close helmet with beavor and movable visor. A form of helmet
introduced in the fifteenth century, the bottom portion of which opened sideways
on hinges and the weight of which was distributed onto the shoulders rather than
being concentrated on the top of the head.
Arming Bonnet – A padded cap worn under the helmet.
Arming Doublet – Worn under the armor.
Arming Hose – Long hose worn under leg armor.
Arming Points – Small thongs of leather for tying the camail to the bascinet or
the roundels to the armpit.
Arming Sword – Short sword worn on the right side.
Articulated – Constructed with overlapping plates.
At Gaze – A synonym for guardant but only applied to members of the deer
Agumentation – An addition made to arms, often to commemorate a special
achievement or event.
Atilt – The position in which the lance was held in charging.
Auxiliary – In military usage, a soldier recruited from a foreign territory.
Aventaille or Ventail – Breathing aperture in helmet, the earliest form of a
Back Sword – Sword with single-edged blade.
Badge – An emblematic figure, especially placed on some prominent part of the
clothing of servants and retainers, such as the breast, back, sleeve, etc., to
show to what household they belonged; found also on flags, buildings, etc. A
heraldic symbol, often combined with a motto, indicating status of one kind or
Baguette – A lappet of mail (see Little Brayettes).
Bainbergs or Bamberges – Armor for the lower part of the leg.
Balandrana – A wide cloak worn by travellers in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Baldrick – An ornamental belt to carry the sword.
Banded Mail – Mail formed by rings through which a leather thong was passed
horizontally on the hauberk.
Banner – 1. Poetic expression for flags in general. 2. In a narrower sense, an
armorial flag. 3. A hanging standard or flag. In the strictest sense, a banner
is bestowed on the bearer under specific conditions and cannot therefore be
readily exchanged for a copy of the same design. For this reason it is usually
fixed permanently to the staff.
Bannertes – Those knighted on the field and entitled to carry banners.
Bar – An ordinary which runs horizontally across the shield like a fess, but
narrower than the latter.
Bar Gemel – Two narrow bars close together.
Barbed – Used to refer to points of arrows and spears and the sepals of a rose.
Barbute – A basinet without a visor or beaver, the sides and back of which
reached the shoulders and folded like a curtain behind the neck. It was
completely open in the front from the eyes down.
Bard (Barding) – Armor for a horse.
Barre – French term for bend sinister.
Barred – Striped.
Barriers – The division of wood which separated combatants in foot jousts.
Bascinet – A globular pointed helmet of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
A relatively light helmet, usually tapering to a point at the top, and with or
without a visor.
Base – The bottom third of the shield.
Baselard – A curved dagger or anelace.
Baston – A mace or club with polygonally cut head.
Baton – A bendlet couped; when borne from sinister chief to dexter base it is a
mark of bastardy.
Baudekyn – Textile fabric of rich silk and gold tissue.
Bavier or Beaver Chin-piece – So called from its resemblance to a bib.
Protective piece covering the chin. It was usually attached to the bottom of the
helmet, at times with a hinge.
Bend – An ordinary consisting of a band running diagonally across the shield
from dexter chief to sinister base. A small bend is a bendlet.
Bend Sinister – A band running diagonally across the shield from dexter base to
Bezant – A gold roundel representing a coin but usually shown plain and
Bicorporate – Having two bodies conjoined to a single head.
Bill – A weapon with scythe-like blade and six-foot shaft.
Bille – A charge consisting of a small rectangle, usually used in large numbers
to cover a field, which is then known as billitey.
Bise – A species of fur.
Bishop’s Mantle – A cape of mail.
Bliant – A garment worn by both sexes, said by some authorities to resemble the
Bombasted – Stuffed with cotton, hair, etc.
Bordure – A band running round and touching the edge of the shield.
Boson – An arrow with a blunt point.
Bossoirs – The bosses on the peytral of a horse.
Botton – A button or buckle for fastening the gorget to the breast piece.
Bouche – The hole cut in the corner of the shield through which to point the
lance; also the circular hole in the vamplate.
Bouchette – Buckle fastening the lower part of the breastplate to the upper one.
Bracer – A leather wrist guard used by archers of the long-bow.
Brassarts – Steel plates for the upper arms (rere-braces) and forearms
(vambraces), including elbow-cop.
Brayette or Braguett – Steel petticoat or skirt of overlapping bands. Little
Brayettes, small plates added at bottom center front.
Breche – Breeches.
Brichette – Armor for loins and hips.
Brigandine – Metal splints sewed upon canvas, linen, or leather and covered with
similar materials; a material used in making light armor. A pair of brigandines
is a body-coat of this material, in two pieces.
Broigne – A shirt of mail.
Brunt – The front or peytral of a horse-trapper.
Bufe – A movable bevor used with an open casque.
Bufle – A coat of buff leather.
Burel Cloth – Coarse woolen cloth.
Burgundian Cross – A diagonal cross formed from two crossed branches.
Buskins – High boots worn by country folk and travellers. Also part of the
King’s Coronation Vestments and of the Vestments of the Bishop at High Mass.
Bycocket – A hat turned up behind and down in front; when worn by kings it was
circled with a crown.
Byrnie – A mail shirt, the precursor of the hauberk. It was often covered with
small metal plates.
Cabasset – A steel cap resembling the morion.
Caboshed – Used of the heads of certain animals when shown affronty and cut off
clean behind the ears.
Cadency Marks – Marks by which the coats of arms of all kinfolk of blood, other
than that of the head of the family, were distinguished therefrom and from each
Caltrap – A charge derived from a kind of iron spike strewn on the ground to
impale horses’ hooves.
Camail – Head mail or armor; mail protection depending from the lower edge of
Cannon – The tubular vambrace.
Canting Arms – Arms which make a pun or play on words involving the name of the
Cantle – The rear peak of the saddle.
Canton – An ordinary consisting of a small square in the dexter chief of the
Capa – A hooded robe or mantle, also worn without hood.
Capellium – The sword sheath or scabbard.
Cargan – A collar or gorget or mail.
Carnet – The visor.
Casque – A helmet.
Celestial Crown – A coronet composed of eight triangular points, each ensigned
with a star and set about a rim.
Chapel-de-fer – Iron hat-of-war.
Charge – Any object used in heraldry.
Chausses – Breeches of mail or other pliant armor for the lower leg and foot.
Chequy – A pattern of checks like a chessboard.
Chess Rook – A representation of the chess piece resembling the cronal of a
Chevron – An ordinary like an inverted V emerging from the base of the shield.
Chief – 1. The upper third of a shield. 2. A shortened form of chief shield.
Chief Shield – A practical term for a large shield quartered, bearing one or
Ciclaton – A tight fitting surcoat shorter in front than behind.
Cingulum – The military belt of a knight or gentleman.
Cinquefoil – A five-petaled figure, rose-shaped.
Claid Heamh – A sword (Gaelic).
Claid Caol – A small sword (Gaelic).
Clarion – An old musical instrument.
Codpiece – A protective cup fitted at the crotch of leg armor.
Cognisance – Heraldic term for badge of a noble family.
Coif-de-mail – Hood of chain mail worn under iron hat of war. A close-fitting
skull cap, usually made of metal and sometimes padded.
Collateral Shields – Before marshalling came into use, subsidiary coats of arms
were often placed on separate shields by the side of, or round, the chief coat
or “coat of name.”
Combatant – Use when two rampant figures face each other as if in combat.
Compartment – The ground on which supporters sometimes stand.
Corium – Armor composed of leather.
Cote-hardie – A tight-fitting tunic when worn by men, a long tight-fitting gown
when worn by women.
Couchant – Lying down but with head erect.
Coude – Elbow pieces of plate.
Counterchanged – A way of describing a partitioned shield where the metal and
color on one side of the partition line are reversed on the other side.
Courant – Running.
Coute or Coudiere – Elbow-piece.
Cronal – The crown-shaped steel tip of a jousting lance.
Crown Valley – A coronet composed of eight inverted “shield-shapes” set about a
Crozier – The badge of abbots and bishops, derived from the shepherd’s crook.
Cuir-bouilli – Leather boiled in oil to render it easier to mold into shapes.
Cuirass – Body armor, originally of leather, afterwards of plate, particulary
aimed at protecting the chest and back.
Cuirie – A body defence of leather, a cuirass.
Cuissards – Leg armor, comprising cuisses and knee cops and jambs.
Cuisses – Thigh armor.
Cyclas – A kind of military surcoat.
Dagges – Ornamental cutting of the edges of garments, dating from around 1346.
Debruised – Said of an animal charged on a shield and surmounted by an ordinary
or other charge.
Demi-jambes – Greaves.
Destrier – A war horse.
Devise – The French term for a badge.
Dexter – The heraldic term for right. The dexter side of a shield is the right
side of the barrer; i.e., the left side as seen by the spectator.
Diapered (Damasked) – A field so described has its plain surface broken up by
patterns executed in a lighter or darker shade of the same color.
Dimidiate – Cut in half; often used of two coats each halved vertically, the dexter side of one being impaled by the sinister side of the other.
Diasarmed – Used of an animal or bird deprived of its weapons (e.g., an eagle
without beak or claws).
Displayed – A bird with wings outspread, tips upward. One also speaks of
Dobbles – Probably molds or patterns on which armor was made (Old English).
Double-queued – Having two tails. This occurs almost exclusively with lions and
was characteristic of a number of arms in the classical period of heraldry
(e.g., those of Bohemia and Limburg).
Double Tressure – Two narrow parallel lines forming a border within a shield.
When interspersed with fleurs-de-lis on alternate sides it is termed “fleury
counterfleury.” This is a favorite charge in Scotland.
Doublet – This short tunic was originally made of double material with padding
inside. It was tight fitting.
Dragon – A scaly, four-legged monster with batlike wings and an eagle’s claws.
Ducal Coronet – A coronet similar to that of a duke but having four instead of
eight strawberry leaves set about a rim. It is often used in place of a crest
wreath but does not indicate rank.
Dunster – A broad cloth made in Somerset, known early in the 14th century
Eagle – One of the commonest medieval charges on heraldic shields, often
denoting imperial sovereignty.
Eastern Crown – A crown consisting of triangular segments on a headband.
Elbow Cops – Elbow pieces of plate armor.
Enarme – The attachments at the back of a shield by which it could be held on
Enfile – Encircle or environ.
Engrailed – A scalloped line of partition, the points of the scalloping pointing
Ennoblement – When a hitherto bourgeois family is raised to the ranks of the
nobility by a reigning sovereign, it at the same time receives a coat of arms.
Ensign – Place above, as of a crown resting on a rose.
Epaulieres – Pieces of armor covering shoulders.
Escarbuncle – A wheel usually consisting of eight ornamental spokes radiating
from a central boss and terminating in fleurs-de-lis.
Fess – A heraldic ordinary consisting of a wide horizontal bar across the
central third of the shield.
Fess Point – The center point of the shied.
Fesswise – Running horizontally across the center of the shield.
Field – The plain ground on which a coat of arms is painted.
Field of Royal Prerogative – A completely red field appearing in some royal
arms, recalling the red banner of feudalism.
Fitched – Pointed at the foot; used for crosses whose bottom arm ends in a
Flag – The generic term for any decorative piece of materials fixed loosely to a
staff and not necessarily of armorial significance.
Flanks or Flaunches – The lateral thirds of a shield. English heraldic flanks
Fletcher – A maker of arrows.
Fleur-de-lis – A stylized form of lily; the emblem of the kings of France.
Applied to a lance tip so shaped.
Flighted – Used of the feathers of an arrow, as far example when they are of a
Fountain – A roundel barry wavy argent and azure.
Fret – A voided lozenge interlaced by a bendlet and a bendlet sinister.
Furs – Generic term for the stylized representation of animal pelts in heraldry.
Fusil – An elongated lozenge.
Fustian – A cotton or woolen cloth.
Gadlings – Spikes, or knobs, on the knuckles of gauntlets.
Gambeson – A close-fitting, quilted tunic of defence, stuffed with wool, tow,
rags, etc. Later called the gipon.
Gardcorp – An outdoor garment worn by men and women.
Gauntlet – Gloves of a knight in plate armor, lined with leather.
Genuillieres – Knee-guards. First made of cuir-bouilli, afterwards of steel.
Ghibelline Battlements – Crenelations with dovetail-shaped notches on their
Gipciere – A leather pouch , attached to the girdle.
Gipon – Similar to the gambeson but eventually worn by itself and became the
Gite – A gown.
Gonfanon – Small banner charged with a knight’s coat-of-arms attached to his
Gorged – Used of an animal wearing a collar, which may be a plain collar or also
a wreath or a crown. The unicorn of Scotland is gorged with a crown.
Gorget – A steel collar, used in fifteenth-century armor.
Goutty – Covered with drops or gouttes.
Greaves or Jambs – Plate armor to protect the shins.
Griffin – A mythical beast whose upper body resembles that of an eagle, but with
pointed ears, and the lower part that of a lion.
Gris – Gray fur from the martin, next in value to ermine and sable, worn by
well-to-do middle classes.
Guardant – Used of heraldic animals which are looking out at the spectator.
Guige – The strap by which a shield was hung round the neck.
Gusset – Pieces of chain mail, tied with points to the “haustement” to cover
those portions of the body not protected with plate armor; they were usually
eight in number, i.e., for armpits, inner sides of elbows, knees and insteps.
Guyders – Straps to fasten the various pieces that went to make up the suit of
Gynours – The servers of catapults and siege engines.
Gypciere – A hanging purse or pouch, from Fr. gibciere, a game-pouch, because
originally used in hawking.
Gyronny – Used of a shield that is divided into at least six triangular segments
(gyrons) by lines radiating from the center.
Habergeon – A short, light hauberk, of which the word is a diminutive; usually
therefore of mail, but sometimes merely a plate for the defence of the throat
Haketon – A variety of gambeson, said to have been of buckskin stuffed with
Hamade – A bar coupled (i.e., not touching the edge of the shield).
Harness – Armor. General term for a suit of armor that completely protected the
body, including the limbs.
Harpy – A mythical creature with a vulture’s body and the head and bust of a
Hatchment – A corruption of achievement but used solely to describe an
achievement painted on a lozenge to indicate the death of the bearer. The way
the background is colored indicates the marital status of the deceased.
Hauberk – A tunic of iron rings interlinked.
Haurient – Used to describe a fish shown erect.
Heater-shaped Shield – A triangular shield with curved sides, shaped like a
Heaume – A heavy helmet without movable visor and only an eye-slit or
occularium, mostly used for tilting.
Helm – From the end of the twelfth century the word was confined to the great
close calque which then came into use.
Helmet – Diminutive of helm, than which it was lighter, and origianlly a
vizorless defence. The helm was often worn over it.
Herald – Originally a messenger and maker of proclamations, the heralds became
involved with armory by necessity. His functions on the medieval battlefield
combined those of ambassador and armorial expert.
Hexagram – A charge formed of two interlaced triangles, one of them inverted;
also known as the star of David or the seal of Soloman.
Hobilar – A light cavalry soldier. Perhaps so called from his wearing a hobille,
i.e., a quilted jack, or gambeson, instead of metal armor; more probably from
his riding a hobby, or small horse.
Hose – Chausses.
Impale – To place two coats side by side on a single shield, as in certain
marital arms where the husband’s coat is placed on the dexter and the wife’s on
the sinister half of the shield.
Inescutcheon – Used of a small shield borne in the center of another shield.
Inverted – Used of a charge turned 180 degrees from its normal position.
Irradiated – With rays of light issuing from a charge.
Issuant – Used of a charge emerging from a line or border.
Jack – A general term for a coat of defence, whether wadded or of mail; but also
especially used for the inexpensive body-garment of the ordinary soldier, formed
of small pieces of metal secured between two folds of leather, canvas, or some
Jamb – The leg of a beast.
Jambes or Jambarts – Shin and calf plates.
Jazerine – Light armor or small plates, or splints, of metal, riveted together
or to some strong material.
Joust – A context between two knights on horseback, bearing lances.
Jupon – A sleeveless, tight-fitting cloak made of layers of cloth.
Kettle-hat – A half-helmet resembling an inverted kettle or pot with a brim and
sometimes with the sides converging to a ridge along the top and back.
Kirtle – Tunic.
Label – A narrow bar with tabs or points pendant from it. A label of three
points across the top of a shield is the distinguishing mark of the eldest son.
Langued – Almost all heraldic beasts have their tongues done in a different
color, and this is known as langued.
Latchet – The strap used to fasten a shoe or clog.
Lettice – A species of fur of a pale gray shade.
Lined – Refers to the inside of a piece of material (e.g., an armorial cloak or
Locket – A metal or leather band on a scabbard.
Lodged – A synonym for couchant but only used in respect of animals of the deer
Lozenge – A charge consisting of a rhombus standing on its point.
Lozengy – Used of a field divided in a diagonal criss-cross pattern to give a
series of lozenges.
Luce – The heraldic term for the pike (fish).
Lunel – A group of four half moons with their tips turned toward one another.
Lymphad – An ancient ship with a single mast. Often shown with flags flying,
sail unfurled, and oars in action.
Mammelieres – Steel roundels with staples fastened on either side of the
breastplate. Chains depended from them to secure the helmet, sword, or
Mantling – The decorative piece of material attached to the helmet and covering
the back of the neck.
Marshal – Draw up an achievement of arms showing the insignia and quarterings.
Martlet – A bird resembling a house martin but having no feet; a popular charge in
the Netherlands, and in England it is a mark of the fourth son.
Mascle – A voided lozenge (i.e., a lozenge with its inside cut out parallel to
Masoned – A charge representing masonry is said to be masoned. The joints
between the blocks are assumed to be of the same shade in a darker tone
Maunche – The sleeve of a lady’s dress shown in a stylized manner.
Melusine – A young maiden with long hair and a fish tail (i.e., a mermaid)
Mentonieres – Plate armor protecting the throat and chin, attached to the
Mill-rind – A charge similar to a crampon representing the iron which supports a
millstone; it is pierced in the center to take the spindle of the millstone.
Misericord – A long, narrow dagger used for giving the coup de grace. Worn on
Morion – A steel cap, with curved brim and high comb.
Monogram – A badge composed of different letters or initials.
Mullet – A five-pointed spur-rowel, or molet. In heraldry a star, normally of
five points drawn with straight lines.
Mural Crown or Wreath – An embattled crown or garland bestowed on the first
soldier to scale the walls of a besieged town.
Naiant – Used to describe a fish swimming across the shield.
Naissant – When one charge issues from the middle of another.
Nasal – The vertical nose-bar of a helmet.
Naval Crown – A coronet composed of hulls and sails of ships set alternately
about a rim.
Nebuly – One of the lines of partition.
Nesselblatt (Nettle Leaf) – The German term for a charge formed using a zigzag
Nimbus or Circle of Glory – A synonym for halo.
Nobility – The highest social class. There are particular crowns corresponding
to the different grades of nobility.
Nombril Point – A point situated between the fess point and the base of the
Nowed – Knotted; often applied to snakes or the tails of beasts when tied in a
Occularium – The eye slit in the helm.
Octofoil – An eight-leaved figure.
Ombrello – An umbrella or canopy used as a sign of dignity in the church.
Ordinaries – A term used to refer to certain basic geometric charges such as the
pale, fess, chevron, chief, cross, bend, and saltire.
Orle – A decorated wreath, worn round the bascinet in fifteenth-century armor.
Also in heraldry used of a charge standing away from the edge of the shield by
its own width.
Over All – Used of a charge which is superimposed on several other charges.
Pale – An ordinary consisting of a broad vertical band down the central third of
Palisade Crown – A coronet composed of pointed stakes about a rim, similar to
Pallets – Plates that protect the armpits. They superseded the mail gusset. In
heraldry a narrow pale.
Pallium – The ecclesiastical pallium shown in the form of a Y, the top limbs
issuing from the corners of the shield.
Panther – A mythical beast.
Parted – The term used to signify that a field is divided into different
Passant Gardant – Walking past, but turning the head so as to show the full
Pass Gaurd (Passe-garde) – Sometimes refers to a ridge of armor guarding the
neck, but may mean a large plate guarding the elbow.
Pauldrons – Usually shoulder guards.
Paunce – Plate armor for the body.
Pean – A variant of ermine composed of gold ermine spots on black.
Pegasus – The mythical winged horse which with the advent of humanism became a
symbol of poetic inspiration, and also penetrated into heraldry.
Pellet – A black roundel, also called an ogress or gunstone.
Pennon – A pointed banner used by knights bachelor and esquires.
Pentagram – Five-pointed version of the seal of Solomon.
Peytral – The breastplate for a horse.
Pheon – An arrowhead in heraldry.
Phoenix – A mythical bird, often depicted resembling an eagle, with outstretched
wings, issuing from flames.
Pile – An ordinary consisting of a triangular wedge emerging from the chief, or,
when reserved, the base.
Placcates or Placcards – Small steel plates used to strengthen the breastplate
and (in the singular) also used to describe the stomacher worn by men and women
at the close of the fifteenth century.
Placing of Charges – Charges are described in such a way as to indicate their
manner of placing on a field. Where three like charges are placed on a shield,
two are always deemed to be in the chief and one in the base unless otherwise
mentioned. Charges placed in a row across the middle of the shield are “in
fess”‘; vertically down the middle they are “in pale.”
Plate – Armor of steel plates as opposed to Mail, or armor composed of steel
rings interlocked. In heraldry a silver roundel.
Points – The ties or laces used to fasten the different parts of costume
Poitrel – The breastplate for a horse.
Polearm – Any of a number of weapons with a blade of some sort attached to a
long pole for a handle.
Poleyus – Overlapping foot-plates.
Pomeis – A green roundel.
Portcullis – A vertically lowered gate consisting of horizontal and vertical
bars, the latter pointed at the bottom.
Potent – The ancient name for a crutch, shown heraldically as a charge in the
form of a T.
Pourpoint – Double stuff, padded or quilted.
Proper – In heraldry anything depicted in its natural color.
Quarrel – A bolt with a four-sided pyramidal head.
Quarter – To arrange coats of arms in sequence on a shield in accordance with
the laws of armory.
Quartering – A segment of the armorial shield which may be smaller than an
actual quarter. Each quartering represents arms inherited from a different
branch of the armiger’s family.
Quintupal Mount – A triple mount surmounted by two single mounts.
Rampant – Rearing up; used of beast.
Rampant Sinister – Rampant, but facing to the left side of the shield.
Regaurdant – Used of a creature looking back over its shoulder.
Rerebrace – Armor of plate for the upper arm.
Ringed Mail – Formed of flat rings sewn side by side on a tunic of leather or
Rising – Used of a bird with its wings open, ready for flight.
Rompu – Broken; used particularly of a chevron, the center broken and enhanced.
Roskyn – Squirrel fur.
Roundel – A disk; different colored roundels have their own special names (e.g.,
plate, pomeis, torteau, etc.).
Sabatons – Broad-toed solerets that came into use in the fifteenth century.
Salade – (Sallet, Salet) A helmet that rested entirely upon, and generally
covered only the top half of, the head, and the rear of which tapered to a point
and projected behind the head.
Saltire – An ordinary consisting of a diagonal cross, the shape of the St.
Sea – Prefix to indicate a creature with fish tail.
Sea-monsters – Often created in heraldry by attaching a fish’s tail to the top
half of a creature’s body. The resulting hybrids are called sea-lions,
Sejant – In heraldry in reference to figures sitting down.
Semy – A field is described as semy when it is strewn with small charges.
Sergeant – Servant to accompanied his lord to battle. Also meant a type of
tenure in service of a nonknightly character owed to a lord. Such persons might
carry the lord’s banner, serve in the wine cellar, make bow and arrows.
Sergeants paid the feudal dues of wardship, marriage, and relief but were exempt
Sextuple Mount – A quintuple mount with a sixth mount added on top.
Shakefork – Shown as a Y, the ends pointed and not touching the edge of the
Sinister – The heraldic term for left.
Sinister Quarter – A quarter on the sinister or left side of a shield.
Slipped – In heraldry used to describe the stalk of a flower.
Sollerets – The overlapping plates forming the mailed shoe of a knight.
Spiked Mace – The correct blazon for a war mace covered with spikes, to
distinguish it from the civic mace.
Splints – Overlapping plates defending the inside of the elbow.
Stains – Mixed colors sometimes used in heraldry; the principal stains are murrey (mulberry color), sanguine (blood red), and tenne (orange).
Standard – A long tapering flag with the arms in the hoist and badges, crest,
and motto on the fly.
Standard-of-mail – A collar of mail to protect the neck; the collar of plate or gorget superseded it.
Statant – In heraldry, a standing figure.
Supporters – Usually two in number, and generally animals. They appear to
support a shield, but had their origin in the fancy of early seal engravers, who
thus filled up the unoccupied space in armorial seals.
Surcoat – A garment worn over the armor to protect it from sun and rain, and
usually blazoned heraldically.
Surmounted – One charge laid over another.
Tabard – A loose, wide-sleeved surcoat, richly figured on back, front, and
Taces – The skirt of plate from waist to mid-thigh.
Targe – A small circular shield.
Tassets – Plates, usually lozenge-shaped, attached by strap and buckle to the
taces to protect the upper or front surface of the thigh.
Throughout – Used of a charge touching the edge of the shield, which does not
normally do so.
Thunderbolt – Twisted bar, normally with rays of lightning behind it.
Thyrtel or Thwyrtel – Knife or dagger.
Tierced in Pairle – Divided into three in the form of a Y.
Tilting Helm – A large helmet worn over the other at tournaments.
Tincture – The generic term for the colors of the heraldic palette, including
the metals and furs.
Tippet – Pendant streamer from the hood or from the arm; also a shoulder cape.
Trick – To indicate the tinctures of a coat of arms by letters; from the Dutch trekken, to delineate.
Torteau – A red roundel.
Trefoil – A three-leaved figure usually slipped at the base.
Triple Mount – A charge usually placed at the bottom of the shield and serving
as a base for the armorial design itself.
Tuilles – Similar to little brayettes.
Tyger – The heraldic tyger is similar to the antelope but with a lion’s body and
no horns. The natural tiger is usually called a Bengal Tiger.
Umbo – The boss of a shield.
Unguled – Used of the hooves of certain animals when of a different tincture
from the body.
Unicorn – A mythical beast with an antelope’s body, lion’s tail and a bearded
horse’s head with a single horn on its forehead.
Urinant – Used to describe a fish when plunging head downward.
Vair – There are two principal furs used in heraldry, of which vair is one. It
consists of the skins of small squirrels joined head to tail.
Vambraces – Armor of plate for the lower arm.
Vamplate – A circular shield through which the tilting and war lances were fixed
above the grip.
Ventail – The lower part of the visor when it is made in two parts.
Vert – The color green in heraldry.
Vervelles – The staples on the bascinet to which the carvail was laced.
Visor – Part of the helmet protecting the face pierced with slit or holes,
moveable, usually pivoted at each side. In heraldry the position of the visor
denotes the rank of the bearer.
Voided – In heraldry, with the center cut out.
Vol – A French term for two wings joined at the base with the tips upward.
Volant – Flying.
Voyding Knife – A knife for disemboweling deer.
Vulned – In heraldry, wounded.
Water Bouget – Symbolically depicted as two water bags pendant from a yoke.
Wavy – One of the lines of partition on a shield.
Winged – With wings attached; used of animals and monsters.
Wreath – 1. A wreath consisting of twisted strips of material serves as a link
between the crest and the helmet, particularly in English heraldry. 2. A wreath
of leaves may be used to surround a charge on a shiled, which is then said to be
Wyvern – A dragon without hind legs (i.e., more serpentine).
Yale – A very English monster, a goatlike creature with teeth like a boar, feet
like a unicorn, and spots of various colors (renowned as a supporter in the arms
of John Beaufort, legitimate bastard of John of Gaunt).