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Symbols used in a Coat of Arms



Meanings of Symbols, Shapes & Colors



Heraldic Symbolism:     (Excerpted (mostly) from "The Symbolisms of Heraldry or A Treatise on the Meanings and Derivations of Armorial Bearings". By W. Cecil Wade. Published in London in 1898.)

Colors and Metals:

Argent, white or silver - Peace and sincerity.
Azure or blue - Loyalty and truth.
Gules or red - Military fortitude and magnanimity.
Murray or sanguine - Not hasty in battle, and yet a victor.
Or, yellow or gold - Generosity.
Purpure, purple - Royal majesty, sovereignty and justice.
Sable or black - Constancy, sometimes grief.
Tenne or tawney - Worthy ambition.
Vert or green - Hope, joy and sometimes loyalty in love.

Common Charges, Ordinaries & Lines
:


Acorn - (Antiquity and strength)
Alerion - Signifies one who having been maimed and lamed in war, was thus prevented from fully asserting his power.
Anchor - Succor in extremity and the Christian symbol of hope.
Angels, Cherubs and Seraphs - Dignity, glory and honor.
Ant - Symbolizes a man of great labor, wisdom and providence.
Antler - (Strength and fortitude)
Annulet or Finger Ring - Fidelity.
Arm - A laborious and industrious person.
Arrows and Arrowheads - Martial readiness.
Axe - Execution of military duty.
Bar - For "one who sets the bar of conscience, religion and honor against angry passions.
Basket - (Symbolism unknown)
Battune Sinister - Marks a royal descent that is barred by illegitimacy from succession to the throne.
Beacons or Cressets - One who is watchful for the commonwealth or who gave the signal in time of danger.
Bear - Strength, Cunning, Ferocity in the protection of kindred.
Beaver - Industry and perseverance.
Bee - Well-governed industry.
Bend - Defense or protection.
Bezant (Gold Roundle) - (Worthy of trust of treasure)
Billets - Their first bearer was a man who obtained credence, knowledge and faith in his words and deeds, and who was secret in his affairs.
Blackamoor Head - Deeds of prowess in the Crusades.
Boar - A fierce combatant when at bay, and ceases fighting only with its life, and therefore may be properly applied as the armorial bearing of a warrior.
Boars Head - Hospitality.
Bordure or Border - Frequently adopted as a "difference" between relatives bearing the same arms.
Bridge - Signifies a governor or magistrate.
Buckles - Victorious fidelity in authority.
Bull or Ox - Valor and magnanimity.
Cannon, Mortars, Cannon Balls and Grenades - Well bestowed on those who have dared their terrors in sieges and battles.
Canton - Bearing of honor. When borne charged, it often contains some special symbols granted by the sovereign in reward for the performance of eminent service.
Catharine Wheel - Emblem of one who is prepared to undergo great trials for the Christian faith.
Cat or Cat-A-Mountain - Liberty, vigilance, forecast and courage.
Camel - Docility, patience and indefatigable perseverance.
Centuar - For those who have been eminent in the field.
Chains - A reward for acceptable or weighty service.
Chaplets and Wreaths - Granted for special service.
Chequy - (Constancy)
Chevron - (Protection; Builders or others who have accomplished some work of faithful service)
Chief - Dominion and authority.
Clarion or Rest - Same as Trumpet.
Cock - Courage, always ready for battle, ready to fight to the death.
Cockatrice - Terror to all beholders.
Cornucopia - Bounty of Natures gifts.
Coulter (Knife in front of a Plow) - An implement of husbandry. Betoken on one who laboured in the earth and depended upon providence for the event
Crescent - Signifies one who has been enlightened and honored by the gracious aspect of his sovereign.
Cross - Chevron - Protection.
Cross (Flory) - (One who has conquered)
Cross (Maltese) - (Blessings - Knights Hospitalier )
Cross(es) - Symbolic of some Christian experience or sentiment.
Crossed Thigh-bones - Mortality.
Crossbow - (Symbolism unknown)
Crow - Signifies a settled habitation and a quiet life.
Crown - Royal or seigniorial authority.
CrownCelestial - Heavenly reward.
Cubes, squares or dice - Constancy, wisdom, verity probity, and equity.
Cushions - Marks of authority.
Dancette - Water.
Dove - Loving constancy and peace.
Dolphin - Charity and a kind affection towards children.
Dragon - A most valiant defender of treasure.
Double Eagle and Eagle - Signifies a man of action, ever more occupied in high and weighty affairs, and one of lofty spirit, ingenious, speedy in apprehension and judicious in matters of ambiguity.
Eagle - Same as Double Eagle.
Eagle displayed - (Protection)
Elephant - Courage and strength.
Embattled - Fire or the walls of a fortress or town.
Engrailed and Invected - Earth or land.
Escallop Shell (Scallop) - One who has made long journeys or voyages to far countries, who had borne considerable naval command or who had gained great victories.
Escarbuncle - Supremacy.
Estoiles - Celestial goodness. Emblems of Gods goodness or of some eminence in the first bearer above the ruder sort of men.
Eye - Providence in Government.
Falcon or Hawk - One eager or hot in the pursuit of an object much desired.
Feathers (usually ostrich) - Willing obedience and serenity.
Fess - Military belt or girdle of honor.
Fire - Zeal.
Fish - (A true, generous mind; virtuous for himself, not because of his heritage)
Flasques - Given by a king for virtue and learning, and especially for service in embassage.
Fleur-de-Lis - (Purity, light, floral badge of France - also the mark of cadency of the 6th Son)
Foot - Same as leg.
Fox - Sagacity, wit or Wisdom in his own defense.
Fret - Persuasion
Fur (any - usually Ermine) - (a mark of dignity)
Fusil - Travel and labour.
Fusil of Yarn - Negotiation.
Gannet - To subsist by the wings of his virtue and merit, having little land to rest upon.
Gauntlet - Signify a man armed for the performance of martial enterprise.
Globe - (Worldliness - world travel)
Goat - Emblem of that martial man who wins a victory by the employment rather of policy than valor.
Gobony - (Constancy)
Gold Roundles - One who has been found worthy of trust and treasure.
Goose and Duck - A man of many resources.
Grasshopper - Wisdom and nobility.
Greyhound - (Courage, vigilance, and loyalty)
Griffin - Sets forth the property of a valorous soldier whose magnanimity is such that he will dare all dangers, and even death itself, rather than become captive.
Gyron - Unity.
Hammer - (Honor - emblem of the smithy)
Hand - Faith, sincerity and justice.
Hand, Red - Usual mark for a baronet if borne on a small escutcheon.
Hares and Rabbits - One who enjoys a peaceable and retired life.
Harp - Contemplation.
Harpy - Ferocity under provocation.
Hawks or Falcons Bells - One who feared not to signal his approach in either peace or war.
Head, Blackamoor - Deeds of prowess in the Crusades.
Head, Human - Honor.
Heart - Charity, sincerity.
Heart, Flaming - Ardent affection.
Hedgehog - Provident provider.
Heraldic Tiger - Same as Tiger.
Hind (Doe Deer) - Peace & Harmony.
Horns and Antlers - Strength and Fortitude.
Horse - Readiness for all employments for king and country.
Horse Shoe - Good luck.
House Snail - Deliberation and perseverance.
Hunting Horn - One who is fond of high pursuits.
Hydra - The conquest of a very powerful enemy.
Increscent - (One who has been honored by the sovereign; hope of greater glory)
Indented - Fire.
Inescutcheon - (Claim to sovereignty; or marriage to an heiress)
Inkhorn - Same as pen.
Key - (Guardianship and dominion)
Knife - (Justice and generous pursuit of honor and virtue in warlike deeds)
Lamb - Gentleness and patience under suffering.
Lance - (The perfection of martial arts; emblem of knightly service; devotion to honor)
Leg - Strength, stability and expedition.
Leopard - Valiant and hardy warrior.
Lightning - The effecting of some weighty business with great clarity and force.
Lion - courage.
Log - (New life sprouting from the old)
Lozenge - Honesty and constancy, also held to be a token of noble birth.
Lozenge - Same as Cubes.
Lyre - Same as harp.
Mascle - (Persuasive)
Mermaid - Eloquence.
Millstones - The mutual converse of human society.
Moon - Serene power over mundane actions.
Mount - (Symbolism unknown - may be just an artistic charge)
Mullet - Denotes some Divine quality bestowed from above.
Mullet(6) (Star of 6 points ) - (Divine quality from above - Old heraldic device, usually drawn like a "Star of David")
Nebulee or Nebuly - The sea or water.
Oak (Tree/Leaves/Branches) - (Great age and strength)
Orle or Tressure - Preservation or protection.
Owl - One who is vigilant and of acute wit.
Padlock - (Security)
Palm branch - (Victory, justice, and honor)
Panther - As a lion may be said to signify a brave man, so may a panther a beautiful woman, which, though fierce, is very tender and loving to her young, and will defend it with the hazard of her life.
Pale or Palet - Military strength and fortitude.
Pastoral Crosier - The emblem of a shepherd’s watchfulness over his flock, and denotes episcopal jurisdiction and authority.
Peacock - Beauty and pride of carriage.
Pegasus - Exceeding activity and energy of mind whereby one may mount to honour.
Pelican - Devoted and self-sacrificing charity.
Pen - Emblematic of the liberal art of writing and of learned employments.
Pheons or Spear Heads - Dexterity and nimbleness of wit to penetrate and understand matters of highest consequence.
Phoenix - Resurrection.
Pile - Same as Pale.
Pillar or Column - Fortitude and constancy.
Plough (Plow) - An implement of husbandry. Betoken on one who laboured in the earth and depended upon providence for the event
Portcullis - Effectual protection in emergency.
Purse - A frank and liberal steward of the blessings that God has bestowed .
Quarter - Bearing of honor. Similar to the Canton.
Quill (Pen) - (Art of writing and of learned employments)
Ragulee or Raguly - Difficulties which have been encountered.
Ram - Authority.
Raven - Through providence, has become the architect of his own fortunes or one of an enduring constancy of nature.
Rhinoceros - Great ferocity when aroused.
Rocks - Safety, refuge and protection.
Rose - (Hope and joy - mark of cadency of the 7th son)
Rose (Red) - (Grace and beauty)
Rose (White) - (Love and faith)
Roundle Gold (Bezant) - (Worthy of trust of treasure)
When or they are Bezants,
When argent they are Plates,
When gules they are Torteaux,
When azure they are Hurts,
When vert they are Pommes,
When purpure they are Golpes,
When sable they are Pellets,
When tenne they are Oranges,
When sanguine they are Guzes.
Saddles, Stirrups and Spurs - Preparedness for active service.
Scaling Ladder - One who was fearless in attacking.
Scallop - One who has made long journeys or voyages to far countries, who had borne considerable naval command or who had gained great victories.
Sceptre - Justice.
Scythe - Hope of a fruitful harvest of things hoped for.
Shacklebolt - Victory in war.
Shells (Other than Scallop) - Protection of Providence.
Shield - A defender.
Ship, Lumphiad or Galley - All such symbols would point to some notable expedition by sea, by which, perhaps, the first bearers had become famous.
Shoe - Same as Leg.
Sickle - Same as Scythe.
Skulls - Mortality.
Spider - Wisdom, labor and providence in all affairs.
Snake - Wisdom.
Sphinx - Omniscience and secrecy.
Squirrel - Sylvan retirement being the delight of its bearer.
Spear Heads or Pheons - Dexterity and nimbleness of wit to penetrate and understand matters of highest consequence.
Spear or Lance - Knightly service and devotion to honor.
Spurs, Stirrups & Saddles - Preparedness for active service.
Spur, Gold - Dignity of knighthood.
Spur, Silver - An esquire.
Staff (Crosier, Crook, Stave - Shepard's/Pilgrim's) - (Shepherd's watchfulness over his flock - pastoral authority)
Stag, Hart, Buck and Deer - Policy, Peace and Harmony.
Star (Mullet) - (Divine quality from above; mark of cadency of the 3rd son)
Star (6 points (Mullet(6))) - (Divine quality from above - Old heraldic device, usually drawn like a "Star of David")
Stirrups, Saddles, and Spurs - Preparedness for active service.
Stork - Filial duty, emblem of a grateful man.
Sun - Glory and splendor.
Swallow - One who is prompt and ready in the dispatch of his business.
Swan - A lover of poetry and harmony.
Sword - A just and generous pursuit of honor and virtue in warlike deeds.
Talbot, Mastiff and Greyhound - Courage, vigilancy and loyal fidelity.
Terrace - (Symbolism unknown)
Tiger - Great fierceness and valor when enraged to combat; one whose resentment will be dangerous if aroused.
Tortoise - Invulnerability to attack.
Tower or Castle - Grandeur and solidity. Sometimes granted to one who has held one for his king, or who has captured one by force or stratagem.
Tree - An object of veneration.
Tree Trunk - An object of veneration - New life sprouting from the old.
Trefoil - (Perpetuity)
Trestles and stools - Hospitality.
Trident - Maritime dominion.
Trimount - (Symbolism unknown - very common German device)
Trumpet - Ready for the fray.
Trunk of a Tree - An object of veneration - New life sprouting from the old.
Unicorn - Extreme courage.
Voiders - Faithful.
Vol (Wings) - (Swiftness, protection, celebrity, or coverture)
Water Bougets - Conferred on those who had brought water to an army or besieged place.
Wheat Ears - Given to gentlewomen who have deserved highly.
Wheat Sheaf - Harvest of ones Hopes has been secured.
Wheel - Fortune.
White Roundles - Generosity.
Wings (Vol) - Swiftness & Protection; Celebrity, sometimes protection or coverture.
Wolf - One whom it is dangerous to assail or thwart.

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