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Common Terms of Heraldry

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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.

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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.

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Dance: A zigzag line.
Displayed: A bird with its body facing forward and its wings spread.

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Erased: The charge appears torn apart.
Erect: Upright.
Estoile: Star.

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Field: Background color.
Fitchy: The pointed bottom of a cross.

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Guardant: Charge faced forward.

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Lioncel: More than three lions.
Lozenge: Diamond shaped

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Membered: The legs and beak of a bird were shown.

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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.

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Quarter: A quarter part in the shield.
Quatrefoil: A flower with four petals.

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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.

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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.

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Vested: Had clothing.
Voided: Charge was missing its center.
Volant: Charge was flying.

Next page: Fabulous Beasts in Heraldry.

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