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The Thistle of Scotland, Linlithgow Palace, © 2000 Susan Wallace

Common Terms of Heraldry

Achievement
The full suit of arms, including the helm, shield, surcoat and other equipment, and whatever supporters were appropriate.
Addorsed
Creatures placed back to back.
Alerion
A spread eagle that lacked a beak or feet.
Armed
Any beast on the shield whose claws, teeth or horns were a separate color from its body.
Attired
Any deer whose antlers were colored differently from its body.
Augmentation
Honors added to a crest or shield.
Banner
Used by knight-bannerets and nobles of higher rank.
Bar
A horizontal line across the shield.
Barry
More than three bars across a shield.
Base
The shield's bottom part.
Bend, Bendlet
A diagonal line across the shield.
Bendy
More than three diagonal lines across a shield.
Blazon
Written description of a heraldic device.
Bordure
A border around the field.
Caboshed
An animal's head facing forward without a neck.
Charge
Name given to whatever decorated the shield.
Checky
Checks of alternating color and metal.
Chevron
A line like an upside down V.
Close
Wings folded against the body of a bird.
Combatant
When two charges appear to be fighting.
Compony
The outside border around the field was checked.
Couchant
An animal sitting or lying down with an erect head.
Counter-Changed
Two alternating field and charge colors.
Courant
The charge was running.
Cowed
A charge was subdued and usually had its tail between its legs.
Dance
A zigzag line.
Displayed
A bird with its body facing forward and its wings spread.
Erased
The charge appears torn apart.
Erect
Upright.
Estoile
Star.
Field
Background color.
Fitchy
The pointed bottom of a cross.
Guardant
Charge faced forward.
Lioncel
More than three lions.
Lozenge
Diamond shaped.
Membered
The legs and beak of a bird were shown.
Pale
Vertical line down the center of the shield.
Passant
The creature was walking.
Penon
Small banner used for low-ranking knights.
Proper
When the charge was in its natural color.
Quarter
A quarter part in the shield.
Quatrefoil
A flower with four petals.
Rampant
A charge with its right leg raised and left foot on the ground; the right paw fully raised as if to claw and the left partially raised.
Reguardant
Charge looked back over its shoulder.
Respectant
Two charges faced one another.
Salient
Charge was leaping.
Saltire
Lines formed an X over the field.
Segreant
A rampant griffin.
Sejant
Charge was sitting.
Semee
The field is covered by little charges.
Sinister
To the left.
Statant
Charge was standing.
Supporters
Characters who stood beside a coat of arms and held it.
Vested
Had clothing.
Voided
Charge was missing its center.
Volant
Charge was flying.