Explanation of terms used

Some of the important characteristics of dictionaries are brevity, clarity and separation of confounding parts.  This website aims to express similiar properties, but the shortened blazons, terms and abbreviations used might be confusing for readers unfamiliar to them. The files below might help to explain difficulties.

Most blazons will be of dictionary type with separation of colours and charges. The colours of the field are invariably given first - or as an X, if the field is multicoloured with the component colours placed last.


           Per pale argent and gules a lion vert within a border sable

          =   XVS-AG;  per pale & lion & border

          Azure, on a bend argent a mullet gules and 2 martlets gules betw.  3 cinquefoils or

         =   BAGO;  bend ch. mullet and 2 martlets betw 3 cinquefoils [mullet betw. the martlets]

  • numbering of items, 74 KB - The items on a manuscript page are numbered as texts are normally read, by row and from left to right. This is followed in (nearly) all cases, where the arms are presented in the most common tabular form or as close as possible for arms in miniatures. A few manuscripts pages might contain arms grouped around a central feature or in courtoisie.  In such cases a different standard numeration is used (as vizualized).  In exeptional cases, where the analysis has showed that the scribe-painters has used a different approach, numeration by column might be used, if stated in the notes to the armorial.  If the artist used 'long lines' across double pages, the items on each page will follow standard numeration.
  • the parts of the field, 191 KB - There might be important differences in how authors enumerate parts of the field and the sequence of field and figures. French authors tend to give the principal figure at first, and to use per chief rather than coupé. In the Ordinary, a strict priority of field before figure, and the field divided with priority along chief and dexter side of the shield. Per chief is preferred to per fess.
  • abbreviations in blazon, 28 KB - A few abbreviations used in blazon, apart from the obvious A/Ar, O/Or, G/Gu, B/Az, S/Sa, V/Vt, Z/Vr, E/Er and X for mixed colours, e.g. in borders compony, fields checky or party.
  • list of sigla for armorials, 86 KB - Each armorial are identified with a unique 3-letter code, exept for English armorials, for which the traditional nomenclature is used, as introduced by the late Sir Anthony Wagner, Garter King of Arms, in CEMRA (Catalogue of English Medieval Rolls of Arms, 1950), and generally used, e.g. in Dictionary of British Arms. Unique 3-letter sigla are available for English armorials as well.
  • abbreviations of marches d'armes, counties and other territories, 36 KB - 3-5 letter codes modified from Raneke 1975.