A Crest shown above a Wreath


Helm and Mantling
A Tilting Helm and Mantling



Glossary of Heraldic Terms

accollé - Two shields placed side by side and touching
accosted - Side by side
achievement - A complete coat of arms with shield, helm, crest and (when appropriate) supporters
addorsed -
Placed back to back
affronty - Head and body facing observer
ancient - The earliest arms used by a family
annulet - A ring; also used as a cadency mark for a fifth son
annuletty - Terminating in rings
Argent - Silver (normally shown as white)
armed - Having teeth, talons, horns or claws (for beats) or wearing armour
armiger - Someone who bears or is entitled to bear arms
armorial bearings - A coat of arms and other properly authorized armorial devices
arms - A shield of arms
Azure - The tincture blue

badge - An heraldic device using some element or elements of the armorial bearings, usually to signify property belonging to the armiger
banded - Tied with a band
banner - A square or rectangular flag showing only the arms as they appear on the shield; flown or sometimes carried in procession
bar - A diminutive of the fess occupying about a fifth of the total depth of the shield
bar gemel - A pair of narrow bars
barrulet - A diminutive of the bar
bend - A broad band extending from top left to bottom right of a shield
bend sinister - A bend which extends from the top right to the bottom left of the shield
bezant - A gold roundel
blazon - The "language of heraldry", a written description of armorial bearings using the correct heraldic terminaology
blemished -
Broken, e.g. a sword
boar - A wild boar with a large head, conspicuous tusks and bristles on its back
bordure - A border at the edge of a shield

caboshed - Head facing forward and no part of the neck visible (animals, except lions and leopards)
cadency - Marks on a shield of arms denoting 'cadets' or children of the armiger, used within the custom of the granting authority
canting arms - Arms which 'cant' or 'pun' the name of the armiger
celestial crown - A crown of eight points each terminating in a star
chapeau - A velvet cap lined with fur
chaplet - a garland or wreath of flowers
charge - Any device or figure placed upon a shield
chevron - An inverted V issuing from the base of the shield
cinqfoil - A stylized floral form with five petals
compony - A single row of chequers
corded - Tied with a cord
cornucopia - A horn of plenty
couchant - A beast lying down with head raised
counterchanged - Having the tinctures reversed
crescent - A half moon with upward-pointing horns; A cadency mark for a second son
crest - A three-dimensional device set upon a wreath, chapeau or coronet, and mounted upon a helmet, normally displayed above the shield but sometimes alone (and without the helmet)
crosier or crozier - A pastoral staff of a bishop or abbot
cross crosslet - A plain cross with each of its limbs terminating in a cross

debruised - Overlaid
demi - Only the upper half depicted
dexter - The right side, as viewed from the charge (left side from the observer's view)
disarmed - A creature without claws, teeth, etc
displayed - A bird with wings expanded
doubled - The lining of a mantling or chapeau
dormant -
A sleeping beast

emblazon - To depict heraldry in colour
en soleil - Surrounded by the sun's rays
enfiled - Passing through, e.g. a crown
equipped - Fully armed
erased - Torn off horizontally leaving a jagged edge
ermine - A fur depicted in white with black patterns and tail
escallop - A stylized shell
escutcheon - A shield, usually when placed on or within the arms of a larger shield

fess - A broad horizontal band across the centre of a shield
fesswise - A charge inclined horizontally
fitchy - Pointed at the foot, e.g. a cross
fleur-de-lis - A stylized lily
flory - A charge decorated with or terminating in fleur-de-lis
flory counter-flory - A charge decorated on either side with alternating fleur-de-lis
fructed - Bearing fruit
fumant - Emitting smoke

garb - A sheaf of corn or wheat
gonfannon - A rectangular, upright flag suspended from a horizontal bar bearing a coat of arms, usually found in a church
gorged - Encircled about the throat
guardant - Head turned to face the observer
guidon - A long flag similar in shape to the standard, showing the owner's badge or crest in the hoist and the motto or slogan lettered horizontally on the fly
Gules - The tincture red

habited - Clothed
hart - A stag
hatchment - A lozenge-shaped panel painted with the arms (normally the full achievement) on a black background, which is normally displayed in church or above the front door to the home of an armiger
hurt - A blue roundel

impale or impaled - Placing another coat of arms within the same shield as the first, such as for arms of a spouse or arms of office; the shield is divided vertically down the centre with the senior arms on the dexter (left as viewed by the observer), either the husband (if for a marriage to an armiger) or the arms of the office held
imperial crown - A crown attributed to an empire, normally with an arch or shown closed at the top
impersonal arms -
Arms of a body corporate, or office
in pretence - Displaying a wife's arms on an escutcheon of pretence, a small shield centred in the husband's shield
in (his) splendour - Of the sun, sometimes with a human face
issuant - Emerging from behind

label - A horizontal bar with a number (usually three) of dependent points; normally denotes the first son as a mark of cadency
langued -
The tongue of a beast
letters patent - A letter addressed (open) to all; in heraldry, normally a document by the relevant authority which informs all who read it of the granting of armorial bearings to a named person or body corporate
livery - Colours or accoutrements associated with an armiger, such as uniforms, badges, collars, flags, etc.; Normally the prime tincture and prime metal as found in the coat of arms
lozenge - A diamond-shaped charge
luce - A pike (fish)

mantling - A cloth piece attached to the helmet intended to give shade and protection from the sun
marine - Suffix meaning 'of the sea'
masoned - Of a wall, having lined of mortar of a specified tincture, i.e. 'masoned Sable'
memorial - A formal petition addressed to the Earl Marshal, or other heraldic authority
motto - A short word or phrase placed upon a scroll either above the crest (as is usual in Scotland) or below the shield
mural crown - A crown in the form of an embattled wall

naiant - Swimming (of fish), normally in a horizontal position
naval crown -
A crown representing alternately the stern and sail of a ship mounted upon a circlet
nowed - Knotted

octofoil - Similar to a cinqfoil but with eight petals
Or - Gold, normally shown as yellow
ordinary - A major heraldic charge
orle -
A narrow border parallel to the edge of a shield but not touching it
over all - Superimposed over on other charges

pale - A broad vertical band in the centre of a shield
palewise - A charge inclined vertically
palisado crown - An open crown with palisades terminating in points, as for a fortification
passant - A beast walking with the dexter forepaw raised
pellet - A black roundel
pendent - Suspended from
pennon - A tapering lance flag
per - Divided, i.e. per bend, per saltire, per pale
pierced - Pierced with a circular hole
portcullis - A sluiced gate or grille protecting the entrance to a castle or town, normally depicted with four horizontal bars and five vertical bars terminating in points at the bottom and with chains attached to the top corners
pretence, in -
The arms of an heraldic heiress when placed on an escutcheon in the centre of the husband's shield
proper - A charge depicted in its natural colouring
Purpure - The tincture purple

quarterly - Describing the charges within a quarter of a shield, when divided this way
quatrefoil - Similar to a cinquefoil, but with four petals

rampant - A beast upright with its sinister (left0 hindpaw on the ground
reflexed - Curved backwards
reguardant - Looking over its shoulder
rising - A bird about to take flight
roundel - A coloured disc

Sable - The tincture black
St Edward's Crown - The crown of the United Kingdom, normally used in heraldry only on the prerogative of the Sovereign
saltire - A diagonal cross
saltirewise - Charges inclines on a saltire
sangliant - Stained with blood
sans - Without
savage - A wild man: long-haired, bearded, carrying a club and wreathed about the temples and loins with leaves
sejant - Sitting
sinister - The left hand side, as viewed from the holder, or right as seen from the observer
standard - A long, narrow, tapering flag marking the armiger personally; Royal standards are normally of similar proportions to national flags
statant - Standing
stringed - Describing the strings of musical instruments, bows or bugle horns
sub-ordinary - A group of charges subordinate to ordinaries
supporters - Beasts or persons depicted at the sides of a shield as though holding it upright; Normally granted to peers of the Realm, eminent persons, or bodies corporate established for a certain period of time

tierced in pairle - Of a shield divided into three
tilting helm - The most common helmet, shown with a closed face and a narrow viewing slit, used in jousting; The helm normally associated with the arms of gentlemen and esquires
tinctures - Colours used in heraldry, which do not include the metals (Argent and Or, or silver and gold) and which normally do not touch each other
torteau - A red roundel
trefoil - A figure having three stylized petals, normally with a stylized stalk
trussed - A bird with closed wings
Tudor rose - A stylized double rose found in the Tudor badge, normally white on red

urchin - A hedgehog
uriant - A fish when diving

vair - A blue and white fur
Vert - The tincture green
vested - Clothed
voided - The centre of a charge when removed to reveal the field or another tincture beneath

wavy - A line or partition of an ordinary which undulated like waves
wreath - A twisted length of cloth which covers the join between the crest and the helmet, normally shown of six alternate twists in the owner's livery colours (a tincture and a metal alternating)


Post-Nominals and Forms of Address

In formal correspondence, the sequence of post-nominal letters used after a name have a specific order of precedence.  The letters are grouped into several categories, and are then organized into precedence within each category. The categories, in order, follow immediately after "Bt" or "Bart" (for Baronets) or "Esq" (for untitled gentlemen), if applicable, and are as follows:

  1. Orders and decorations conferred by the Crown (see below)
    (a) National Orders
    (b) Provincial Orders
    (c) Decorations

  2. Appointments in the following order: Privy Counsellor, Aide de Camp to The Queen (or to the Governor General or to the Lieutenant Governor), Honourary Physician to The Queen, Honourary Surgeon to The Queen, Honourary Dental Surgeon to The Queen, Honourary Nursing Sister to The Queen and Honourary Chaplain to The Queen: PC, ADC (or AdeC), QHP, QHDS, QHNS and QHC.

  3. Queen's Counsel, Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant and (in Canada) Unity of Empire (for member of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada): QC, JP, DL and UE.

  4. University degrees.

  5. (a) Religious Orders
    (b) Medical Qualifications

  6. (a) Fellowships of learned societies
    (b) Royal Academicians and Associates
    (c) Fellowships, memberships, etc. of professional institutions, associations, etc.
    (d) Writers to the Signet: WS.

  7. Members of Parliament, Members of Provincial Parliament, Members of the National Assembly (Québec) and Members of Legislative Assemblies: MP, MPP, MNA and MLA.

  8. Membership of one of the Armed Forces or Corps (e.g. Royal Navy: RN, Royal Canadian Armoured Corps: RCAC).

Orders and Decorations Conferred by the Crown

Canada does not officially recognize peerages, baronetcies or knighthoods conferred on its own citizens. However, the rank of knight has been included to show a definitive, complete listing, and because knighthoods have occasionally been conferred upon dual citizens, or naturalized British citizens. The following list is in order of precedence and includes both British and Canadian (shown in their proper sequence for use in Canada) orders and decorations.

Victoria Cross (VC); Victoria Cross (VC); George Cross (GC); Cross of Valour (CV); Knight of the Garter (KG); Knight of the Thistle (KT); Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB); Order of Merit (OM); Order of the Crown of India (CI); Knight Grand Commander of the Star of India (GCSI); Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG); Knight Grand Commander of the Indian Empire (GCIE); Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO); Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire (GBE); Companion of Honour (CH); Knight Commander of the Bath (KCB); Knight Commander of the Star of India (KCSI); Knight Commander of St Michael and St George (KCMG); Knight Commander of the Indian Empire (KCIE); Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO); Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE); Companion of the Order of Canada (CC); Officer of the Order of Canada (OC); Member of the Order of Canada (CM); Commander of the Order of Military Merit (CMM); Commander of the Order of Merit for the Police Forces (COM); Companion of the Order of Bath (CB); Companion of the Order of the Star of India (CSI); Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG); Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE); Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO); Commander of the British Empire (CBE); Distinguished Service Order (DSO); Officer of the Order of Military Merit (OMM); Officer of the Order of Merit for the Police Forces (OOM); Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO); Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE); Imperial Service Order (ISO); Member of the Order of Military Merit (MMM); Member of the Order of Merit for the Police Forces (MOM); Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO); Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE); Member of the Royal Red Cross (RRC); Distinguished Service Cross (DSC); Military Cross (MC); Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC); Air Force Cross (AFC); Star of Military Valour (SMV); Star of Courage (SC); Meritorious Service Cross (MSC); Medal of Military Valour (MMV); Medal of Bravery (MB); Meritorious Service Medal (MSM); Associate, Royal Red Cross (ARRC);  Order of St John of Jerusalem, post-nominals used only within the Order;   Ordre national du Québec (GOQ, OQ, CQ); Saskatchewan Order of Merit (SOM); Order of Ontario (OOnt); Order of British Columbia (OBC); Alberta Order of Excellence (AOE); Order of Prince Edward Island (OPEI); Order of Manitoba (OM); Order of New Brunswick (ONB); Order of Nova Scotia (ONS); Order of Newfoundland and Labrador (ONL); Order of British India (OBI); Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM); Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM); George Medal (GM); Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM); Distinguished Service Medal (DSM); Military Medal (MM); Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM); Air Force Medal (AFM); Medal for Saving Life at Sea (SGM); Indian Order of Merit - Civil (IOM); Colonial Police Medal for Gallantry (CPM); Queen's Gallantry Medal (QGM); Royal Victorian Medal (RVM); British Empire Medal (BEM); King's Police Medal (KPM); King's Police and Fire Service Medal (KPFSM); Queen's Fire Service Medal (QFSM); Colonial Police Medal for Meritorious Service (CPM); Army Emergency Reserve Decoration (ERD); Volunteer Officer's Decoration (VD); Territorial Decoration (TD); Efficiency Decoration (ED); Air Efficiency Award (AE); Canadian Forces Decoration (CD).

Forms of Address, Styles and Titles

In Canada, the use of "Rt Hon" (Right Honourable) before a person's name is limited to the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of Canada, and the following eminent Canadians: Rt Hon Martial Asselin, Rt Hon Donald Mazankowski, and Rt Hon Herbert Gray.  This title is used for life.  In addition, the Governor General is referred to as "His/Her Excellency" while in office.

In Britain, "Rt Hon" is used for life by Privy Counsellors of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and by Earls, Viscounts and Barons, their wives and widows, by certain Lords Mayor, and the Provost of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The Canadian use of "Hon" (Honourable) for life includes Lieutenants Governor, Privy Counsellors, and members of the Senate.  Others may use "Hon" while in office, including most chief judges and justices, members of cabinet (executive council), legislative councils for Provinces and Territories, and by the speaker of the lower houses of federal, provincial and territorial legislatures.

For more complete advice on the use of "Rt Hon", "Hon" and other styles and titles, refer to the following link:


The title "Dr" is used for those holding doctorate degrees, normally in medicine or a related field, although surgeons in Britain retain the title of "Mr". Untitled gentlemen are titled "Mr".  Married women are titled "Mrs" and unmarried women use "Miss". The title "Ms" is used mainly in the business and professional world.

In Canada, the accepted military ranks and corresponding abbreviations are:

Officers and General Staff
Army/Air Force Rank Abbreviation Naval Rank Abbreviation
General Gen Admiral Adm
Lieutenant-General LGen Vice-Admiral VAdm
Major-General MGen Rear-Admiral RAdm
Brigadier-General BGen Commodore Cmdre
Colonel Col Captain Capt(N)
Lieutenant-Colonel LCol Commander Cdr
Major Maj Lieutenant-Commander LCdr
Captain Capt Lieutenant Lt(N)
Lieutenant Lt Sub-Lieutenant SLt
Second Lieutenant 2Lt Acting Sub-Lieutenant A/SLt
Officer Cadet OCdt Naval Cadet NCdt
Non-Commissioned Members
Chief Warrant Officer CWO Chief Petty Officer 1st Class CPO 1
Master Warrant Officer MWO Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class CPO 2
Warrant Officer WO Petty Officer 1st Class PO 1
Sergeant Sgt Petty Officer 2nd Class PO 2
Master Corporal
Master Bombardier (Artillery)
Master Seaman MS
Bombardier (Artillery)
Leading Seaman LS
Guardsman (Foot Guards)
Highlander (Highlanders)
Gunner (Artillery)
Sapper (Engineers)
Trooper (Armoured)
Rifleman (Rifle Regts)
Able Seaman AS
Private (Recruit) Pte(R) Ordinary Seaman OS

Foreign military ranks, including British, may differ in both name and abbreviation.

The list is not exhaustive and one should refer to the sources below for more complete information on precedence, styles and titles.


Sources: "Heraldry for the Local Historian and Genealogist" (Friar, London: Grange Books, 1997); "Debrett's Correct Form" (London: Headline, 1999); "Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia" (Way of Plean and Squire, Glasgow: Collins, 1994); "Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols - Protocol" (http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/cpsc-ccsp/pe/index_e.cfm, 4 March 2003); "Debrett's Etiquette" (http://www.debretts.co.uk/etiquette/correct_forms_of_address.html, 24 April 2005)
  © 2005, Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, Toronto Branch - Updated: 2005-04-24