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Heraldry is both a science and an art form. Developing out of the emblems and insignia born upon shields and banners during battle, heralrdy as a profession encompasses not only the devising, granting, and blazoning of arms, but also the tracing of genealogies, and determining and ruling on questions of rank or protocol. This dictionary, however, is only concerned with the first of these aspects of heraldry.

The language used in blazoning (i.e., description) a complete achievement (i.e., the shield and all its surrounding elements) is intentionally precise because the object being described is associated with a specific family or institution, and often belongs to a single individual. This dictionary has been created with the goal of aiding people new to the field of heraldry in understanding written descriptions of armorials, such as those used in the descriptions of the Special Collection's Online Bookplate Registry. It may also aid in properly describing arms in order to identify the individual, family, or organization to which those arms belong.


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Page content last modified
31 July 2000