SYMBOLISM OF HERALDIC COLORS, FURS, LINES & ORDINARIES or...

What does it mean if your coat of arms bears a red boar's head?

   

Please note that the following descriptions and meanings are gleaned from a variety of sources, some of which disagree on those meanings. The most commonly accepted meanings are given, but scholars vary in the their opinions concerning the reliability of any "commonly held" historic meanings for coats of arms and crests.

For examples of the different positions for heraldic animals,
see our "Sample Lions In Heraldry" page.

   
COLORS Even the colors can have special meaning in a "family crest" or coat of arms: 
Gold (Or) Generosity and elevation of the mind
Silver or White (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. Usually the fur coat of the weasel is represented.
Ermine ErmineWhite with black spots.
Erminois ErminoisGold with black spots.
Ermines ErminesBlack with white spots.
Pean PeanBlack with gold spots.
Vair VairBlue and white bell-shaped objects.
   

Heraldic Lines and Ordinaries:

Nebuly LineNebuly Clouds or air
Wavy LineWavy Sea or water
Engrailed LineEngrailed Earth or land
Invected LineInvected Earth or land
Indented LineIndented Fire
Dancette LineDancettee Water
Raguly LineRaguly Difficulties that have been encountered
Embattled LineEmbattled Walls of a fortress or town (also, fire)

 

The most common heraldic symbols and their meanings
as suggested by some historians - images and more information
available via links for each item.

For a list of symbols and their meanings, without illustrations, visit Meanings: All.

For a list of all symbols and their meanings with illustrations (page may take a while to load to your screen), visit Symbolism.

     
A
B C
Acacia Branch or Leaves Baby's Breath Cactus Flower
Acanthus Leaves Baguette (gem ring) Cadences (Marks of Cadency)
Acorn Banderole Caduceus

Agricultural Tools (See also Scythe and Sickle)

Banner Calla Lily
Alisaunder (Similar to Laurel) Bar, Barry, Barrulet

Caltrap (or Caltrop)

Allerion (Mythical creature, similar to an eagle, but without beak or claws) Barry Wavy Camel
Anchor Bat Cannon & Cannon Balls
Angelica Baton Candle/Lamp
Angels Battle Axe Canton
Annulet
(finger ring)
Bay Leaves Cap of Maintenance
Ant Beacon (Also Lantern or Lighthouse) Carnation
Antelope Bear Carpenter's Square
Antlers Beaver Castle (Tower/Chateau)
Anvil Bee Cat (Also Wildcat or Lynx)
Apple/ Apple Tree Beech Cattails (Bulrushes)
Arm (or Hand) in Armour or Embowed Bell Catherine Wheel
Arm, Naked Bell Tower (or Clock Tower) Centaur
Arrow or Dart Bend/Bendy Cerberus
Aspen Leaves Berries Chains
Ass Bezant/Byzantine Coin
(Also Besant; Gold Roundle)
Chamomile

Axe (Also Halbert, Halberd, Hatchet)

Billet/Billettee Chapeau See also "cap of maintenance")
Azalea Birch Chaplet (Floral)
Bird of Paradise Chequy
Birdbolt Cherry Blossom
Bishop's Mitre Cherubs & Cherubim
Black-Eyed Susan Chess Rook
Blasted Chevron
Bluebonnet Chief
Boar Chimera
Boar's Head Chough (Cornish Crow)
Bonacon Chrysanthemum
Bomb (Mortar Piece) Church
Bones (Crossed Thighbones) Cinquefoils
Book Civic Wreath (of oak leaves and acorns)
Border Clarion
Bourdon (See Pilgrim's Staff or Palmer's Stave) Claw of a Bird
Bow

Clock Tower

Bow and Arrow Clouds
Braced Cock (male bird)
Bracket Cockatrice
(small serpent)
Bridge Column
Broom Plant Comet
Buck (See Stag) Community
Buckle Compass
Buglass (purple quatrefoil) Compony or Gobony
Bull/Buffalo Cornish Chough (crow, raven; See "chough")
Bull's Head Cornucopia (horn of plenty)
Bull's Horns Cottice/Cotice (bendlet)
Butterfly Coupeaux
Crane (Stork)
Cramp
Crescent
Cresset (See "Beacon")
Crosier/shepherd's crook
Cross
Crossed thighbones (See Bones)
Crow (See also "Chough")
Crown or Coronet
Crown (Mural)
Crown (Naval)
Crown of thorns
Cup (often covered)
Cushions
Cygnet (young swan)
Cypress

 

D E F
Daffodil Eagle
Falcon (Hawk)
Dagger or dart Eagle with two heads Fasces
Dahlia Edelweiss Feathers
Daisy Elephant Fer de moline
(See millrind)
Dawle (black quatrefoil) Elm Fern
Decrescent Enfield Fess/Fesse
Deer (See also Stag/Hart/Buck) Ermine Spot Fetterlock
Dice Escallop (scallop shell) Fife
Dill Escarbuncle Fig leaf
Dog (See also Talbot) Escutcheon or small shield, alone, with no charges Finger, pointing
Dogwood

Escutcheon of Pretence (Small shield in center of primary shield, as shown above.)

Fire/Fire-fighting
Dolphin Estoile (star with six wavy points) Fish
Dove Eye Flag or Pennant
Dragon
Flanchi/flasque/flanches
(Also flaunches)
Drops (Guttees) Fleece (lamb's)
Drum Fleur-de-lis
Duck (Also Teal) Flint stone
    Flowers (See specific flowers)
Fly (or Gad-fly Gad-bee)
Fountain
Fox
Fraises
Fret
(saltire through
a mascle)
Fruit
Fusil
(narrow lozenge)
Fusil of Yarn (yarn with the spindle)

 

G H I-J-K
Galley Hammer

Ichthus (Greek for "Fish")

Gannet (duck without beak or legs) Hand Increscent/Increment
Garb (wheatsheaf) Hand, red

Inescutcheon (See "Escutcheon of Pretence")

Garlic Hare (see Rabbit) Infinity Symbol
Gauntlet Harp Insignia - Marine Corps
Gavel Harpy (Virgin's face, neck and breast with the body of a lion) Insignia - Naval Academy
Gem or Jewel Hart (male deer) - See Stag/Buck Ivy Leaves
Geranium Hawk (Falcon) Inkhorn or Inkwell
Gillyflower (tawney quatrefoil) Hawks' lures: Iris
Ginseng Hazel branch or leaves
Globe Head (Human) Jaguar
Goat Heart, Flaming Jasmine
Gobony or Gobbony (See Compony) Heart, Human Jessamine (white quatrefoil)
Goose Hedgehog Jessant de lis
Gorged (around neck) Heliotrope
Grape leaves Helmet
Grapes Hibiscus
Grasshopper Hind (female deer)
Grenade Holly Keys
Greyhound Horns Knight (especially on horseback)
Griffin Horse (See also Seahorse)
Gyronny Horseshoe
Hourglass
Housemark
Huitfoil
(double quatrefoil)
Human Head
Humettee
Hunting Horn
Hyacinth
Hydra (dragon with seven heads)

 

L M-N O-P
Labarum (Constantine's Cross) Man Oak Garb or Sheaf
Label Magnolia Oak Tree, Leaves, Bush
Ladder (Scaling Ladder) Maple leaf Oak Tree/Bush with Acorns
Lamb or Ewe Marigold Olive Branch or Leaves
Lamb carrying staff or banner with a cross (paschal lamb) Martlet
(footless swallow)
Orange Blossom
Lamp/Lantern
(See also "Candle")
Mascle
(hollowed out lozenge)
Orchid
Lance or Javelin Masonic Square Orle
Laurel Leaves Mastiff Ostrich/Ostrich plumes
Lavender Matches Otter
Leg Maunch (lady's sleeve) Owl
Lemur Mermaid Ox
Leopard or Ounce Millpick
Leopard's head swallowing a fleur-de-lis (jessant) Millrind
(or millstone)
Letter (i.e., A, B, C) Mint
Level Mitre (See Bishop's Mitre for more images)
Lightning Bolt Mole Pale/Palet/Pallet/Paly
Lilac Monkey Palm Branch
Lily Moon Palm Tree
Linden branch or leaves Moor/Saracen/Turk Pansy
Lion
Moor fowl or Moor-cock Panther
Lion, heraldic Mortar Piece Papal Headdress
Lotus Morning Glory Parchment/Scroll/Diploma
Lozenge or Lozengy
Mount/Mound
(See "Coupeaux")
Parrot
Lunel (Four crescent moons facing each other) Mulberries Paschal Lamb
Lupine Mule Passion Nails
Lure (hawk's) Mullet
(Star)
Pavilion
Lymphad (See also Ship) Musical Pipes Peacock
Lyre Myrtle Peacock Feather
Pear
Pegasus
Pelican
Nettle Leaf Pen
Pennon or Flag
Peony
Periwinkle (blue quatrefoil)
Petunia
Pheasant
Pheon (Spear-head)
Phoenix
Pig
Pike (Fish) (See also Spear)
Pile
Pilgrim's Stave/Staff
Palmer's Stave/Staff
Pillar (See Column)
Pincers
Pine
Pine Cone
Pineapple
Pipes (See Musical Pipes)
Pitcher
Plant
Plow or Ploughshare
Plume of feathers
Plummet
Poinsettia
Pomegranate Fruit
Poplar leaf
Poppy (sanguine quatrefoil)
Portcullis (Castle Gate)
Primrose (Cowslip)
Proboscides
Pussy Willow

 

Q-R S T
Quatrefoil (Primrose) Sabre (See Sword) Table
Saddle Tabor (snare drum)
Sage Talbot (hunting dog) (See also Dog)
Salamander Tent
Rabbit (Conie) Salmon (See Fish) Terrace
Rainbow Saltire Thistle
Ram Savage/Saracen Thorn Leaf
Raspberries Scales Thyme
Rat Scallop Shell (See Escallop) Tiger
Ratch-hound (small hound) Sceptre Tiger Lily
  Scroll (See Parchment or Diploma)  
Raven Scythe or Sickle Torch
Ray or Rayonnee Sea Horse/ Sea Dragon Tortoise
Rhinoceros Seal/Sea lion Tower
Rhododendron Seaweed Tree Trunk/Stump/Branch
Rock Seraphim Tree
Rose Serpent/Snake/Lizard Tree of Life (Knowledge)
Rose, Red Shacklebolt Trefoil or Shamrock
(three-leaved grass)
Rose, White Shamrock Tressure
Rose, Yellow Shield Tressure Flory Counterflory
Rosemary Ship Trestle
Roundles Ship, Dismasted Trident
Rye Shofar Trumpet
Shutle (Weaver's Shuttle) Tulip
Skull
Snail
Snake (See Serpent)
Snapdragon
Spear/Pike
Spear-head (See Pheon)
Sphere
Sphinx
Spider
Spur or Spur Rowel
Square Symbols
Squirrel
Stag
(Also Reindeer)
Stag's Antlers
Star (estoile or mullet)
Steel
Stirrup
Stool
Stork
Sun
Sunflower
Swallow
Swan
Sword/Dagger/Dart
Sabre/Cutlass/Scimitar

 

U-V W X-Y-Z
Unicorn Walnut Leaves Yew
Water Lily Zinnia
Water Bouget
Wheat-Ear
Vine Wheat Garb or Sheaf
Violet Wheel
Vol (Set of Wings) Willow (Weeping)
Vulture Wings (See also "Vol")
Wisteria
Wolf
Woodbine Leaves
Woman
Wreath of laurel leaves (and berries)
Wren
Wyvern
(Dragon with only two legs and armed tail)

 

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