Dictionary of heraldic terms used in Steen Clemmensen’s ‘Evaluating armorials (II) – Variant coats of arms’

Steen Clemmensen’s blogpost contains some heraldic terms that might, for the uninitiated, look like a secret language. The purpose of these particular vocabulary and the fairly strict manner of describing a coats of arms (= blazoning), is that it should enable a reader or an artist to imagine and recreate a coat of arms in an exact manner. In order to make the article intelligible for the novices, we have provided a short dictionary of the heraldic terms and overview of heraldic basic rules as practised by Clemmensen.[1]



In heraldry, colours are divided into two groups: metals (yellow and white) and colours (the other colours). The basic colour rule is that metal should not touch metal and colour should not touch colour. The underlying idea is that the alternation of metal and colour provides a visual contrast and hence makes the coats of arms clearly visible and identifiable from a distance. The heraldic terms for the metals and colours are as follows:

Or Yellow
Argent White
Gules Red
Azur Blue
Sable Black
Vert Green





For the visibility of the coats of arms, it is important that the charges are drawn as clearly as possible. The heraldic terms for the different charges are as follows:

Pale Vertical band in the centre of the shield  pale
Paly Multiple vertical bends in an even number  paly
Fess Horizontal band in the centre of the shield  fess
Barry Multiple horizontal bends in an even number  barry
Chief Horizontal band on top of the shield  chief
Bend Diagonal band from above right (viewers left) to below left (viewer’s right)   bend
Bendy Multiple diagonal bends in an even number  bendy
Chevron An inverted V-shaped charge  chevron
Chevronny Multiple inverted V-shaped charge in an even number  chevronny
Brisure / cadency Systematic set of figures that serve to differentiate between otherwise identical coats of arms. The example shows the cadency of the Label of three points  brisure
(Party) Per (Party) Per means that the field is parted in two parts. The word that follows indicates the way it is parted. The examples show per fess and per pale  per 1per 2
Rampant Climbing  rampant
Guardant Looking at the observer  guardant
Passant Walking. A Walking lion looking at the observer (guardant)  is   also called a leopard  passant
Salient Jumping  salient
Statant Standing  statant
Issant Coming out of an edge of the field or from another charge  issant



[1] The coats of arms that serve as an example are all from Wikipedia.org

OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Heraldica Nova (November 19, 2014). Dictionary of heraldic terms used in Steen Clemmensen’s ‘Evaluating armorials (II) – Variant coats of arms’. Heraldica Nova. Retrieved July 13, 2024 from https://doi.org/10.58079/phvl

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This is the account of the Heraldica Nova editorial team.

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