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Glossary

defamed

defamed

A beast or a bird termed `disarmed' is represented without claws, teeth, or beak. Similarly to the `morne' attitude, it stands for obedience and temperance.

delf

delf

The delf represents has the shape of a shovel's head, and represents a shovelful of earth. It symbolism is complex: while some authors consider it a mark of untrustworthiness, it is generally seen as a symbol of honesty and merit.

demi-fleur de lis couped palewise

demi-fleur de lis couped palewise

The expression `demi fleur de lis couped palewise' describes a heraldic lily which is emblazoned on the top of the shield (the chief), but only half depicted, the lower half being absent (couped palewise). It shares the symbolism of the fleur de lis, signifying purity and virtue.

dexter arm

dexter arm

The human arm figures often in heraldry, but mostly as part of a crest rather than as a charge. The dexter arm, as its name suggests, starts from the left side of the shield (the dexter) and is usually bent and armored. It symbolizes prosperity, merit and qualities of leadership.

diapering

diapering

Along with the standardized variations and divisions of the field, another possibility of decorating the shield is diapering. In this case, the field is patterned with stylized designs such as crosshatches (closely angled parallel lines) or arabesques.

differencing / cadency

differencing / cadency

Until modernity, families had more than one male offspring, which led to the issue of differencing the coats of arms borne by each son. While the eldest son inherited the father's blazon, the other sons received coats of arms modified with signs of cadency which reflected their status.

displayed

displayed

When a bird (usually an eagle) is described as `displayed', its wings are spread in a position which suggests majesty and sovereignty.

divions of the field

divions of the field

The field or background of a shield may be divided in several standardized ways into more areas (generally two or four) of different tinctures. This serves the purpose of differentiation or that of marshalling (when two or more shields are combined to create a different coat of arms).

doe

doe

The doe, also known as the hind, is an uncommon version of the stag in heraldry. In medieval heraldry, all versions of the stag were known as "cerf." The doe appeared on the arms of Sir Christopher Hatton, the patron of famed Elizabethan explorer, Sir Francis Drake, who renamed his ship "The Golden Hind" in Hatton's honor. The doe appears as a charge or a supporter, in similar positions to other types of stags. In the case of the municipal arms of Edinburgh, a doe appears as a supporter. This shows a connection with St. Giles, the city's patron saint. Giles was a seventh-century French hermit whose only friend was a doe who supported him with her milk. The doe appears opposite a maiden after 1640. The doe is associated with docility and nurturing (so it does not appear in aggressive positions), but also with the general stag attributes of heroism, leadership, and "poverty in youth and wisdom in war".

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dog

dog

The dog is a frequent charge in both English and Scottish coats of arms. It can be depicted as either a talbot or a greyhound. It symbolizes loyalty, vigilance and faithfulness.

doloire

doloire

This term designates a type of axe used during the Middle Ages both as a tool and as a weapon. It was also named "wagoner axe", due to its employment as a weapon by the wagoner - the overseer of the supply wagons for troops during military campaigns. It symbolizes strength, protection and military duty.

dormant

dormant

In this attitude, the lion is depicted with sleeping, with its head resting on its front paws. It generally stands for someone who has retired from services, but maintains his majesty and merit.

double cross

double cross

This type of cross was originally associated with the Knights Hospitaller, who later became the Knights of Malta. They wore a white double cross on a black mantle, thus signifying their obedience to monastic vows, piety and oath to protect those in need.

double rose

double rose

A variant of the most commonly depicted heraldic flower, the double rose is depicted as two concentric roses, with the smaller flower in the middle. It shares symbolic associations with those of the regular heraldic rose, signifying purity, beauty and sacrifice.

dove

dove

The dove is an extremely common charge, with variants such as the turtle dove or the pigeon. It is mainly emblematic of purity, due to its Biblical association with the Holy Spirit, a link which medieval authors and heralds heavily emphasized. It also symbolizes charity, faithfulness, filial piety and spirituality.

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dovetailed

dovetailed

Similarly to the `embattled' line, when a partition is made through a `dovetailed' line the resulting fields resemble the dovetailed edges of wooden houses, with gaps facing gaps. The term itself comes from carpentry.

dragon

The term `dragon' holds several meanings. It may apply to a wyvern, a mythological creature, whose tail and head are emblazoned with a different tincture than the rest of its body, or to the dragon itself. It symbolizes strength and warrior spirit.