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Posted on 03/20/2013



ABYSS- The honor point of the shield, the very center.

ACORN-The symbol of plenty, also used in coats of arms as a pun on the name (Canting arms)

ANCHOR- The emblem of hope, usually painted with a rope attached.

ANNULET- A ring, the symbol of strength. The Roman symbol of Liberty.

ANT- Also known as the Emmet, patience and forethought.

ANTELOPE- The symbol of peace and harmony, the heraldic antelope is unlike it’s cousin in the zoo or safari park. The body of a stag with the tail of the Unicorn and fearsome horns.

APE and MONKEY- Used to signify sagacity. The crest of Fitzgerald.

ARK-NOAHS- Rarely encountered, the symbol of the Church.

ARM- Very common in crests, denotes industry.

ARROW- The symbol of readiness, commonly used as a pun on the surname, as in Fletcher (arrow maker) Usually seen in crests, but occurs regularly on the shield also.shield with arrow

ASS- Uncommon in heraldry, represents patience..

AXE- The symbol of military service and duty. Very common in crests, less so on the shield.

BADGER- Also known as a brock, denotes intelligence. Rarely used.

BARNACLE- Not a sea creature, but a horse grooming tool. Denotes service.

BAR-SHOT- Two cannonballs connected by an iron bar. Symbol of military service.

BAT- The representation of watchfulness.

BEACON- From the Saxon word becnian, symbol of the call to arms.

BEAR- The emblem of family protection.

BEAVER- Industry and perseverance.

BEE- A more common symbol of industry. Denotes a self made man.

BELL- The emblem of warning. Also used in canting arms.

BEZANT- Symbolizes someone involved in banking, and equal dealing.

BILLET- An oblong square, said to represent building bricks.

BISHOPS MITRE- The emblem of service to the Church.

BLACKAMOOR- The symbol of one who fought in the Crusades, also termed a Moor.

BOAR- Also termed a Sanglier, the emblem of the fiercely combative.

BOOK- Denotes learning and a willingness to listen. Often painted with a motto on the page.

BUCKLE- The emblem of fidelity and firmness. Common in Scottish arms.

BUGLE HORN- another symbol of military service, not to be confused with the hunting horn.

BULL- Represents valor. Usually shown in a walking position.

BUTTERFLY- Symbol of peace. Canting arms device used in Butterfield arms.

CADUCEUS- Also known as Mercury’s Rod. The symbol of peace.

CALDRON- A boiling pot, denotes a willingness to do battle.

CALTRAP- A nasty device to disable cavalry horses. An emblem of warning.

CAMELEOPARD- Actually a giraffe, denotes somebody who distinguished themselves in Africa.

CANNON- Another common symbol of military service.

CAP- also termed Cap of Maintenance, denotes service to King and country.

CARTWHEEL- A common symbol of industry. Also used as a pun, as in the arms of Carter.

CASTLE- The emblem of safety. As in the arms of Gonzalez. castle

CAT- Not to be confused with the household moggy. This is a Scottish wildcat, represents vigilance and courage. There are still 400 in the Highlands of Scotland.

CATHERINE WHEEL- The symbol of martyrdom, a torture device in it’s day.

CHAPLET- The emblem of peace and understanding.

CHOUGH- A raven like bird, symbolizes death.

CINQUEFOIL- Said to denote joy and plenty.

CLAYMORE- Denotes military fortitude. The Highland broadsword.

CLOUD- Symbol of faith and consistency.

COCK- The rooster is the emblem of vigilance, virility, and bravery.

COCKATRICE- A fantastic creature of heraldry said to symbolize sin.

CORMORANT- This sea bird denotes wisdom and watchfulness.

CORNUCOPIA- The horn of plenty.

CRAB- An uncommon symbol of patience and cunning.

CRANE- Often shown holding a stone, which would drop if he fell asleep, thus waking him, this is an ancient representation of vigilance.

CRESCENT- Said to denote service in the Crusades.

CROSS- The symbol of Christianity, there are over 200 different types in heraldry

CUSHION- A symbol of authority.

DAGGER- Honor in battle, a common charge in crests.

DART- An arrow, the symbol of readiness, certain “artists” have depicted an actual dart.

DOLPHIN- The symbol of charity. In heraldry, the dolphin is green and red with scales and spikes on his back. He is most certainly not Flipper.

DOVE- The emblem of peace and chastity.

DRAGON- This fantastic heraldic monster symbolizes courage.

EAGLE-Emblematical of fortitude and magnaminity of mind. shield with eagle

ELEPHANT- Normally awarded to those who distinguished themselves in the Far East.

ENFIELD- A fantastic mix of animals found on the crest of Kelly, symbolizing strength.

ESCALLOP- an early symbol of Christianity, worn on the sleeve.

ESCARBUNCLE- The symbol of a leader, it was a series of clasps and bolts that strengthened a shield.

EYE- The eternal emblem of providence.

FALCON- Representing a man of action.

FASCES- Symbolizing those who have held magisterial office. The fasces was also the emblem of the Italian fascist party under Benito Mussolini

FETTERLOCK- A symbol of authority, is frequently painted as a fetlock, the lower leg of a horse. It is , in fact, a medieval handcuff.

FISH- Another very common Christian symbol in heraldry.

FLEUR DE LYS-Said to represent the Christian Trinity. The national emblem of France it just as common in English, Spanish and Italian heraldry.

FORK- An emblem of industry, normally a hay or dug fork.

FOX- Emblematic of intelligence and a refusal to be captured.

FRET- The true love knot of heraldry. Also said to be a symbol of persuasion.

FROG- The symbol of harmony and peace.

FUSIL- A spindle used in the spinning industry, emblem of industry.

FYLFOT- Most holders of coats of arms with this symbol decline to display their shield. It is a Swastika.

GALTRAP- Another word for the Cheval Trap to disable horse cavalry. A spiked weapon.

GARB- The symbol of plenty, a sheaf of wheat.

GAUNTLET- Said to signify military service.

GILLY FLOWER- An ancient emblem of generosity.

GLOBE- When shown fractured with clouds and rainbow is the symbol of hope.

GOAT- Emblematic of persistence and strength.

GRAPE- Denotes industry and plenty.

GRENADE- A bomb that looks like a cartoon image constitutes a warning in heraldry.

GRIFFIN- The beautiful mythical mix of eagle and loin is the most well known of all the heraldic monsters. It is the emblem of valor and magnaminity.

HALBERT- A battle axe, the symbol of military service.

HAND- Emblematic of faith.

HARE- Denotes one who is intelligent in warfare.

HARP- The heraldic symbol of Ireland for centuries.

HARPY- A cross between a virgin and a vulture, it’s meaning is unknown.

HAWK- The symbol of a man of action.

HAWTHORN TREE- Denotes bad luck to one’s enemies.

HEART- Sometimes depicted in flames, the emblem of love and devotion.

HEDGEHOG- An ancient symbol of cunning and perseverance.

HIND- The female of the stag, emblematic of one who will fight if provoked.

HORSE- Denotes one who is ready to do battle.

HORSE SHOE- The age-old symbol of good luck.

HOUND- Usually a Talbot, the emblem of leadership.

HYDRA- A fantastic monster with seven heads, a symbol of fortitude.

IBIS- The Egyptian bird is emblematic of patience and virtue.

IMPERIAL EAGLE- An eagle with two heads. The symbol of fortitude and magnaminity of mind.

INK-MOLINE- The center of a mill wheel, an emblem of industry.

IVY- The symbol of eternal life.

JACKDAW- A member of the crow family, symbolic of death.

JANUS HEAD- Emblematic of the passage of time.

JOUSTING LANCE- Symbol of a knight in service.

KEY- An emblem of one in the service of the Church.

KINGFISHER-Symbol of the halcyon of the ancients. Rarely found.

KNOT- A symbol of love and faith in its many forms.


This is the end of the first part of our list. Please call us at Shield And Crest if you have any questions about the meaning of the symbols on your coat of arms (family crest) Toll-Free 866-289-2798. You can e-mail us at shieldandcrest@gmail.com. We are passionate about coats of arms, and painting them correctly. Whether you buy from us at www.shieldandcrest.com or not, we are always willing to give our time to your questions.

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