“A” Terms

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A or a. In heraldric memoranda and sketches of arms in trick, the letter A is employed to signify the metal Argent and is often perferred over ar. Which might be mistaken for az. or for Or. [See Argent]

ABACOT*. See the article.

ABBEY*. See Monastery, also Ruins.

ABAISSÉ. A French word, generally used in heraldry instead of the English word abased. When the fess, or any other ordinary properly placed above the fess point of the shield, is brought below it, that ordinary is said to be abaissé. [See Article]

ABASE.* To bring a charge or ordinary to a position lower than is customary or to bring wings or other parts which would usually point up, to be pointed down.  The word itself outside of heraldry means “to bring low” or “to humble”. See ABAISSÉ.

ABATEMENT. Any figure added to coats of arms tending to lower the dignity or station of the bearer. Thus, the baton, denoting illegitimacy, is an abatement: so, also, are the differences in coats of arms showing the degrees of consanguinity. The use of Abatements was largely a theoretical exercise as they were very rare in actual practice. [See Article]

ABBISME*. In the middle fess point. Sometime called Abyss.  [See Article]

ABOUTTES*. With the ends united in the center.

ABSCONDED*. Entirely hidden by superimposed ordinary or charge. In all ways the absconded charge is considered to still be there and is blazoned as such. [See Article]

ACE: See Cards.

ACCIDENT*. A comprehensive term applying to marks of difference and the like, as well as any artistic interpretations of the arms in emblazon which do not substantively alter the nature or blazon of the arms. [See Article]

ACCOMPANIED*. Used only by the old heralds, is practically the same as “between;” e.g. a cross accompanied by four crescents r a chevron accompanied by three roses. [See Article]

ACCOLLEE. In heraldry, accollee means placed side by side; also, entwined about the neck.

ACCORNE. Horned but only used when the horns are of a different tincture from the rest of the beast.

ACCOSTED. Supported on both sides by other charges and also, side by side.

ACCROUPI. Said of a lion or wild beat in a resting posture, the same posture as Sejant.

ACCRUED*. Full-grown. Applied to trees.

ACHIEVEMENT.The coat of arms fully emblazoned according to the rules of Heraldry. The lozenge-shaped achievements that are displayed on the outside of the houses of persons deceased are commonly called Hatchments.  [See Article]

ADDERS. or asps: Appear not to be distinguishable from serpents and snakes, except as regards size. They are represented as notced, embowed, or erect. When not otherwise described they would be represented fesswise, but curling. Vipers’ heads also occur.

ADDITION. In heraldry, an addition is something added to a coat of arms, as a mark of honour the opposite of an abatement.

ADDORSED, or endorsed. Any animals set back to back. These terms (generally the latter) are also used with reference to axes (bills), to keys, when the key- bits or wards are turned outwards, and to other similar objects, and more especially to wings and heads of birds, &c.  See LION.

ADUMBRATION, or Transparency: The shadow of a charge, apart from the charge itself, painted the same colour as the field upon which it is placed, hut of a darker tint, or, perhaps, in outline only. The term belongs rather to the romance of heraldry than to its practice, and is imagined by the writers to have been adopted by families who, having lost their possessions, and consequently being unable to maintain their dignity, chose rather to bear their hereditary arms adumbrated than to relinquish them altogether. When figured by a black line the bearing is said to be entrailed.

AFFRONTANT. Used when two animals face each other, e.g. of goats, stags, greyhounds; but the terms Confronting and Respecting each other, are more properly employed.

AFFRONTE or AFFRONTTY. Facing the spectator (as the lion in the crest of Scotland), or in full aspect, which is the more correct term when applied to a bird. It is applied to a helmet, savage’s head, &c.

AGNUS DEI. The Lamb of God. See Lamb (Holy). [See Entry for Illustration].

ALEE.  See Griffin.

ALEMBICK.  See Limbeck.

ALERONS.  See Ailettet or Alettes.

ALLERION. An eagle displayed, without beak or feet.  [See Article for Illustration]

ALLUSIVE ARMS. Arms based upon a pun derived from the bearer’s name or occupation.

ALTAR TOMB.  See Church

ALTERNATE. Figures or tinctures that succeed each other by turns.

AMETHYST. A precious stone of a violet colour, the name of which was formerly used instead of purpure, to denote the purple tincture when emblazoning the arms of the English nobility.

AMPTY.  See Cockatrice.

ANANAS.  See Fine-Apple.

ANCHE.  Curved; used of a scimitar.

ANNULET. A small circle borne as a charge in coats of arms.  Annulets are added to arms for a difference. Annulets refer to the symbols of office used by the Roman Republic and the Empire, as such they are generally carried by those of important office.  Occasionally however I have seen them to symbolize a ring of marriage. See DIFFERENCES.

The Betsy Ross flag has stars "in annulo."

ANNULO*. The term in annulo refers the position of charges arranged in a circle or ring, like the shape of the Annulet.

ANCIENT. A small flag or ensign. The bearer of the flag was called by its name.  [See Entry for More]

Iago was ancient to the troops commanded by Othello.
“This is Othello’s ancient, as I take it.
The same indeed, a very valiant fellow.” SHAKSPEARE.

ANTELOPE.  May refer to either the natural antelope of the heraldic antelope, the Agacella .

ANTIQUE.  Meant to imply depicted in the “old sytle.”

ANVIL. The blacksmith’s anvil.

APE.  Heraldry does not often distinguish between Apes and Monkeys, their usual depiction is quite stylized and may be difficult to recognize..  However, a variety of later crests used monkeys as elements and a number can be found as supporters.

ARCHBISHOPS. Church dignitaries of the first class. There are but two in England-the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York. The former is the first peer of England next to the royal family, and has the title of Grace given to him; and likewise Most Reverend Father in God. He is styled Primate of all England, and Metropolitan.  The Archbishop of York has precedence of dukes and great officers of state, except the lord chancellor. He is called His Grace and Most Reverend Father in God; and styled Primate of England and Metropolitan.

ARGENT. The French word for silver, of which metal all white fields or charges are supposed to consist. [see Article]

ARMED. This word is used to express the horns, hoofs, beak, or talons of any beast or bird of prey, when borne of a different tincture from those of their bodies.

ARMORIST. A person skilled in the bearings of coats of arms, and all relating to their emblazonment. Not to be confused with the Armorer who makes the armor you wear.

ARMS. A word derived from the Latin arma, which signifies in Heraldry a mark of honour, serving to distinguish states, cities, families, &c. When used in a context where it may be confused with weapons of war,”Coat of Arms” should be used instead.

ARMS OF ENQUIRY*(armes à enquérir). Arms which do not comply with the Rule of Tincture.  This rule is followed so greatly that any breach of the rule is thought to be done on purpose, hence the term Arms of Enquiry, meaning that the viewer will automatically wish to inquire why the rule was broken.  The most famous example is the Argent field and Or crosses of the Arms of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, where in the usage of metal on metal was to allude to exceptionally holy nature of the domain.
See RULE OF TINCTURE; TINCTURE [Article on Tincture available.]

ARROWS. Short darts feathered at the ends.

ASPECTANT. Animals placed face to face in a charge are said to be aspectant. If they are about to attack each other, they are said to be combatant.

ASSUMPTIVE. Arms assumed without being sanctioned by a grant from the College of Heralds.

ASSURGENT. A man or beast rising out of the sea is said to be assurgent.

ATCHIEVEMENT. The coat of arms fully emblazoned according to the rules of Heraldry. The lozenge-shaped atchievements that are displayed on the outside of the houses of persons deceased are commonly called Hatchments. [Archaic spelling: See Achievement]

A stag "attired or."

A stag “attired or.”

ATTIRED. Argent, a Stag lodged proper, attired or.

When the horns of a stag are of a different tincture to its head, it is said to be attired.

AUGMENTATION. This word signifies in Heraldry a particular mark of honour, granted by the sovereign in consideration of some noble action, or by favour; and either quartered with the family arms, or on an escutcheon or canton.

AZURE. The French word for blue: it is distinguished in heraldic engraving by lines running parallel to each other in an horizontal direction, as in the annexed example. [See Article]

A BOUCHE Refers to a shape of shield.  Basically rectangular, it is distinguished by the presence of a notch (lance rest) at the dexter chief position.  May also be referred to as a Jousting or Tournament Shield.

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