Family Index A-L

Family Index M-Z

Family Index

Family Names


Heraldic Dictionary Common Heraldic Symbols 

Acacia Branch or Leaves - Eternal and affectionate remembrance.

Agricultural Tools - Laboring in the earth and depending upon providence; see also Scythe and Sickle.

Anchor - Hope.

Angel - Dignity, glory, and honor; missionary; bearer of joyful news.

Ant - Great labor, wisdom, and providence in one's affairs.

Antlers - Strength and fortitude.

Anvil - Honor; emblem of the smith's trade.

Apple - Felicity and peace.

Arm in Armour - A person with qualities of leadership.

Arm, Naked - An industrious person.

Arrow - Readiness (for battle); if depicted with a cross, represents an affliction.

Ass - Patience and humility.

Axe - Execution of military duty.

Banners - Refer to special action in which bearer was captured, or a reward for valiant service.

Bar, Barry, or Barrulet - "One who sets the bar of conscience, religion, and honor against angry passions and evil temptations".

Barry Wavy - Troubles keep us in continuous exercise and reminders of providence (as waves in a storm at sea).

Baton - Token of authority.

Battle Axe - Execution of military duty.

Bay Leaves - Poet or victor's laurel.

Beacon - One who is watchful, who gave the signal in time of danger.

Bear - Strength, cunning, ferocity in the protection of one's kindred.

Beaver - Industry and perseverance.

Bee - Efficient industry.

Bells - Power to disperse evil spirits; a hawk's bells denotes one who was not afraid of signalling his approach in peace or war.

Bend - Scarf or shield suspender of a knight commander; signifies defense or protection.

- Bravery; fights to the death.

Boar's Head - Hospitality.

Bones (crossed thighbones) - Mortality.

Book - If open, manifestation; if closed, counsel.

Border - Difference between relatives bearing the same arms; also an augmentation of an honor.

Bow - Readiness (for battle).

Bridge - Governor or magistrate.

Broom Plant - Humility.

Buck - One who will not fight unless provoked; peace and harmony.

Buckle - Victorious fidelity in authority.

Bull - Valor, bravery, generosity.

Bull's Horns - Strength and fortitude.

Butterfly - Psyche or Soul.

Camel - Docility, patience, and perseverance.

Cannon and Cannon Balls - One who has dared the terror of such a weapon in battle.

Canton - As in a flag borne at the top comer of the shield; reward from the sovereign for performance of eminent service.

Carnation - Admiration.

Carpenter's Square - Conforming one's actions to the laws of right and equity.

Castle (Tower) - Safety.

Cat - Liberty, vigilance, forecast, and courage.

Centaur - Eminence in the field of battle.

Chains - Reward for acceptable and weighty service; with crowns and collars, this suggests the bearer bore the chain of obligation or obliged others because of services done.

Chaplet (Floral) - Usually with green leaves and four roses: the crown of joy and admiration.

Cherub - Dignity, glory, and honor; missionary; bearer of joyful news.

Chevron - Protection; Builders or others who have accomplished some work of faithful service.

Chief - Top one-third of the shield; signifies dominion and authority; often granted as a special reward for prudence and wisdom or successful command in war.

Chough - (Cornish Crow)    Strategist in battle; watchful for friends.

Cinquefoils - Hope and joy.

Civic Wreath (of oak leaves and acorns) - One who saved a fellow citizen's life or shown patriotism in defense of one's native land.

Clarion - Ready for war.

Claw of a Bird - Note the prey-er that has been preyed upon.

Cock (male bird) - Courage and perseverance; hero; able man in politics.

Cockatrice (small serpent) - Terror to all beholders.

Column - Fortitude and constancy; with serpent coiled around it, wisdom with fortitude.

Cornucopia (horn of plenty) - The bounty of nature's gifts.

Crane (Stork) - Close parental bond; Vigilance if holding a rock.

Crescent - One who has been honored by the sovereign, hope of greater glory.

Cresset (Beacon) - One who is watchful, who gave the signal in time of danger.

Cross - Service in the Crusades.

Cross Crosslet - (crossed at each end) Signifies the fourfold mystery of the Cross.

Cross Flory (Patoncee) - (cross flowered at each end) One who has conquered.

Cross Raguly - Difficulties encountered.

Crow (Cornish Chough) - Strategist in battle; watchful for friends.

Crown (Mural) - Defender of a fortress, token of civic honor; one who first mounted the breach in the walls of a fortress.

Crown (Naval) - One who first boarded an enemy's ship; distinguished naval commander.

Cup (covered) - Office of the king's butler.

Cushions - Authority.

Cygnet (young swan) - Where gorged with a crown around its neck, signifies dignity.

Cypress - Death and eternal life thereafter.

Deer - One who will not fight unless provoked; peace and harmony.

Dice - Constancy.

Dolphin - Swiftness, diligence, charity, and love.

Dragon - Valiant defender of treasure; valor and protection.

Drops (Guttes) - One who has endured torrents of liquids, as in battle, depending upon the color of the liquid.
Yellow: gold.
Blue: tears.
Green: oil.
White: water.
Black: pitch or tar.
Red: blood.

Drum - Ready for war.

- Loving constancy and peace; with an olive branch in its bill, it signifies a harbinger of good tidings.

Duck - Person of many resources.

Eagle - Person of noble nature, strength, bravery, and alertness; or one who is high-spirited, ingenious, quick-witted, and judicious; "True magnanimity and strength of mind" ace. to Guillim. If wings "displayed," it signifies protection.

Eagle with two heads - Conjoining of two forces.

Elephant - Great strength, wit, and ambition.

Escallop (scallop shell) - Traveler to far places or victorious naval commander.

Escarbuncle - Supremacy; brilliant gem.

Escutcheon of Pretense - Claim of a prince to sovereignty; or marriage to an heiress of the family.

Estoile (star with six wavy points) - Celestial goodness; noble person.

Falcon (Hawk) - One who does not rest until objective achieved.

Feathers - (usually ostrich feathers) Sign of obedience and serenity.

Fess - Military belt or girdle of honor; represents readiness to serve the public.

Fetterlock - Victory; one who has taken prisoners or rescued prisoners of war.

Fife - Ready for war.

Fire - Zealousness.

Fish - A true, generous mind, virtuous for himself, not because of his heritage.

Flag - Refer to special action in which bearer was captured, or a reward for valiant service.

Fleur-de-lis - Purity; light; floral badge of France; represents sixth son as mark of difference.

Flint stone - Readiness for zealous service.

Flowers - Hope and joy.

Fountain - A roundel, crossed with wavy bars of blue and white; represents water, a spring.

Fox - One who will use all that he/she may possess of wisdom and wit in his/her own defense.

Fret (saltire through a mascle) - (Also, fretty or latticework) Persuasion.

Fruit - Felicity and peace.

Fusil (narrow lozenge) - Travel and labor.

Fusil of Yam (yam with the spindle) - Negotiation.

Gannet (duck) - One who has to subsist by virtue and merit.

Gauntlet - Armed for the performance of martial enterprise.

Goat - One who wins through politics rather than war.

Goose - Resourcefulness.

Grasshopper - Noble and home-bred.

Grenade - One who has dared the terror of such a weapon in battle.

Greyhound - Courage, vigilance, and loyalty.

Griffin - (Head, wings, and talons of an eagle with the body of a lion); Valor and death-defying bravery; vigilance.

Hammer - Honor; emblem of the smith's trade.

Hand - Pledge of faith, sincerity, and justice; two right hands conjoined represent union and alliance.

Hare - One who enjoys a peaceable and retired life.

Harp - Well-composed person of tempered judgment; contemplation.

Harpy (virgin's face, neck and breast with the body of a lion) - Ferocity under provocation.

Hawk (Falcon) - One who does not rest until objective achieved.

Head (Human) - Honor; if the head of a "blackamoor" or Moor, refers to deeds of prowess in the Crusades.

Heart, Flaming - Intense, burning affection.

Heart, Human - Charity and sincerity.

Hedgehog - "Provident provider" ace.

Helmet - When depicted on the shield, denotes wisdom and security in defense.

Hind (Female Deer) - Peace and harmony.

Holly - Truth.

Horns - Strength and fortitude.

Horse - Readiness for all employments for king and country.

Horseshoe - Good luck and safeguard against evil spirits.

Hourglass - Flight of time; mortality.

Huitfoil - Mark of cadency for the ninth son.

Hunting Horn - One who is fond of the chase, of high pursuits.

Hydra (dragon with seven heads) - Conquest of a very powerful enemy.

Inescutcheon - See "Escutcheon of Pretense"

lvy Leaves - Strong and lasting friendship.

Inkhorn - Art of writing and educated employment.

Keys - Guardianship and dominion.

Ladder - One who was fearless in attacking; if against a tower, be on.

Lamb Paschal ( carrying staff or banner with a cross) - Faith; Brave, resolute spirit.

Lamb - Gentleness and patience under suffering.

Laurel Leaves - Peace and/or triumph.

Leg - Strength, stability, and expedition.

Leopard - Valiant and hardy warrior who enterprises hazardous things by force and courage.

Lightning Bolt - Swiftness and power.

Lily - Purity; see "Fleur-de-lis".

Lion - Dauntless courage.

Lozenge - Constancy.

Lyre - Contemplation; tempered judgment.

Marigold - Devotion and piety.

Martlet (footless swallow) - Symbol of the fourth son (mark of difference); may signify one who has to subsist by virtue and merit, not inheritance.

Mascle (hollowed out lozenge) - Persuasive.

Mastiff - Courage, vigilance, and loyalty.

Maunche (lady's sleeve) - "For my lady's sake".

Mermaid - Eloquence.

Moon - Serene power over mundane actions.

Moor - Dates back to the Middle Ages when it was considered an honor to take a Moor's head.

Mortars - One who has dared the terror of such a weapon in battle.

Mule - Often borne by abbots and abbesses who have pastoral Jurisdiction, but not real jurisdiction.

Mullet (five-pointed star) - Divine quality from above; mark of third son.

Musical Pipes - Festivity and rejoicing.

Oak Tree, Leaves, Bush - Great age and strength.

Oak Tree/Bush with Acorns - Continuous growth and fertility.

Olive Branch or Leaves - Peace and concordance.

Ostrich - Willing obedience and serenity.

Otter - One who lives life to the fullest.

Ox - Valor and generosity.

Pale - Military strength.

Palm Branch - Victory, justice, and royal honor.

Panther - Fierce, but tender and loving to children and will defend with her life.
Passion Nails - Token of poignant suffering undergone by the bearer.

Pavilion - Readiness for battle.

Peacock - Beauty, power, and knowledge.

Pears - Felicity and peace.

Pegasus - Poetic genius and inspiration.

Pelican - Self-sacrifice and charitable nature.

Pen - Art of writing and educated employment.

Pheon (Spear­head) - Dexterity and nimble wit; readiness for battle.

Phoenix - Symbol of resurrection.

Pile - Represents large pieces of wood used in building bridges; engineering skills, builder.

Pillar - Fortitude and constancy; with serpent coiled around it, wisdom with fortitude.

Pincers - Honor; emblem of the smith's trade.

Pine - Death and eternal life thereafter.

Pine Cone - Life.

Pipes (music) - Festivity and rejoicing.

Plume of feathers - Sign of willing obedience and serenity of mind.

Pomegranate Fruit - Fertility and abundance.

Portcullis (castle gate) - Protection in an emergency.

Quatrefoil (Primrose) - Brings good tidings.

Rabbit (Conie) - One who enjoys a peaceable and retired life.

Rainbow - Good times after bad.

Ram - Authority.

Ratch-hound (small hound) - Loyalty, courage, and vigilance.

Raven - Divine providence.

Rhinoceros - Ferocious when aroused.

Rock - Safety and protection; refuge.

Rose - Mark of the seventh son.

Rose, Red - Grace and beauty.

Rose, White - Love and faith.

Roundels - (or treasure):
White: plate (generosity).
Green; pomme (apple).
Purple: goipe (wounded).
Blue: hurt or wortleberry.
Black: pellet, ogress, or gunstone (cannon ball).
Red: torteau (communion wafer or manchet cake).
Tawney: orange (tennis ball).

Saddle - Preparedness for active service.

Salamander - Protection.

Saltire - (St. Andrew's Cross) Resolution.

Scallop Shell - See "Escallop".

Scythe or Sickle - The hope of a fruitful harvest.

Seraphim - (angel with three pairs of wings) Dignity, glory, and honor; missionary, bearer of joyful news.

Serpent/Snake - Wisdom.

Shacklebolt - Victory; one who has taken prisoners or rescued prisoners of war.

Shamrock - Perpetuity; floral device of Ireland.

Shield - When borne on the arms, represents the defender.

Ship - Ancient sea voyages.

Ship Dismasted - Disaster at sea.

Skull - Mortality.

Snail - Deliberation and perseverance.

Snake - Wisdom.

Spear - Honorable warrior; valiant knight.

Spear-heads (Pheons) - Dexterity and nimble wit; readiness for battle.

Sphere - Geographical or scientific reference.

Sphinx - Omniscience and secrecy.

Spider - Wisdom, labor, and prudence.

Spur - Preparedness for active service; pressing onward.

Square - Constancy.

Squirrel - Lover of the woods.

Stag - One who will not fight unless provoked; peace and harmony.

Stag's Antlers - Strength and fortitude.

Steel - Readiness for zealous service.

Stirrup - Preparedness for active service.

Stool - Hospitality.

Stork - Filial duty, close parental bond; If holding a rock, symbolizes vigilance.

Sun - Glory and splendor; fountain of life.

Swallow - One who is prompt and ready in doing business;.

Swan - Poetic harmony and learning, or lover thereof.

Sword - Justice and military honor.

Table - Hospitality.

Tabor - Festivity and rejoicing.

Talbot - Courage, vigilance, and loyalty.

Tent - Readiness for battle.

Tiger - Fierceness and valour; resentment dangerous if aroused.

Torch - Zealousness; engaging in signal service.

Tortoise - Invulnerability to attack.

Tower - Safety and grandeur.

Tree Trunk - New life sprouting from the old.

Trefoil or Shamrock (three-leaved grass) - Perpetuity.

Trestle - Hospitality.

Trumpet - Ready for war.

Unicorn - Extreme courage; virtue and strength.

Vine - Strong and lasting friendship.

Water Bouget - One who carried water to an army or a besieged place.

Wheat-Ears - Faithful.

Wheat Garb or Sheaf - The harvest of one's hopes has been secured.

Wheel - Fortune.

Wings - Swiftness and protection.

Wolf - Reward from perseverance in long sieges and/or hard industry.

Woodbine Leaves - Love that does not injure that which it clings to.

Wreath of laurel leaves and berries - Triumph.

Wyvern (Dragon with only two legs) - Valour and protection.

Yew - Death and eternal life thereafter.

Other Symbolic Defining Factors

Colors: can have special meaning in a "family crest" or coat of arms:

Gold (Or) - Generosity and elevation of the mind.

Silver (Argent) - Peace and sincerity.

Red (Gules) - Warrior or martyr; Military strength and magnanimity.

Blue (Azure) - Truth and loyalty.

Green (Vert) - Hope, joy, and loyalty in love.

Black (Sable) - Constancy or grief.

Purple (Purpure) - Royal majesty, sovereignty, and justice.

Orange (Tawny or Tenne) - Worthy ambition.

Maroon (Sanguine or Murray) - Patient in battle, and yet victorious.

Furs: The mere fact that a shield or crest contains furs suggests a mark of dignity. The furs are ermine (black with white spots), erminois (yellow or gold with black spots), vair (geometric design, usually blue and white), and pean (black with yellow or gold spots):

Nebuly Line - Clouds or air.

Wavy Line - Sea or water.

Engrailed Line - Earth or land.

Invected Line - Earth or land.

Indented Line - Fire.

Dancette Line - Water.

Raguly Line - Difficulties that have been encountered.

Embattled Line - Walls of a fortress or town (also, fire).