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Glossary

oak leaves

Another frequent charge, the oak leaves as well as the tree in its entirety are sometimes part of canting arms. As a traditional sign for Jupiter, the oak stands for strength, majesty and power.

olive branch / crown

The olive branch has a profound symbolic history, dating back to the Old Testament. It symbolizes peace and hope, and frequently associated with the dove.

or

or

Or (gold, yellow) is depicted on shields as a series of dots. It symbolized nobility, intelligence, prestige, virtue, and grandeur.

ordinaries

The term `ordinary' or `honourable ordinary' has been used in heraldry to describe commonly-occurring geometrical figures which are considered charges. These figures can run either from side to side of the shield, or from top to bottom.

orle / tressure

orle / tressure

The orle is similar to a bordure, but does not meet the edges of a shield. This frame-like figure can be made of different materials such as plants, etc. When thinner, it is called a tressure. It may also occur repeatedly on the same shield.

ostrich

ostrich

After the falcon, martlet and dove, the ostrich is most frequently encountered as a crest. Its depiction is very natural, and it is commonly represented holding a horse-shoe or a key. Its feathers also occur frequently in heraldry. It stands for patience, tranquillity, obedience, vigilance and endurance.

ostrich feather

ostrich feather

The ostrich feather is a very important heraldic symbol due to its occurrence in the heraldic devices of the English Royal family since the time of Edward the 3rd. It symbolised faithfulness, magnanimity, generosity and justice.

otelles

otelles

In old French, this term referred to `peeled almonds', the meaning of which was later transferred to heraldry. These almond-like figures are usually emblazoned proper (argent), and are similar to the pointed ends of spears. They signify power as well as gentleness.

owl

owl

In heraldry, the owl is always represented with its face affronté. It appears for instance in the arms of Richard Oldham, a 15th century cleric who served as Bishop of Sodor and Man. It initially symbolized wisdom or wit, but was also associated with Christ, victory and melancholy.