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Armorial Gold's Heraldry Dictionary

This heraldry dictionary is based on the works of Elvin (edited by Marvin Beatty) from his original manuscript of 1879. Corrections have been made, and additions from the Armorial Gold Library have been added. You are welcome to use this heraldry dictionary as a reference tool without fee. This is copyrighted material and as such may not be reproduced in "any way" without the expressed written permission of Armorial Gold. Thank You for your Cooperation.
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Heraldry Dictionary Section M

Mace. An ornamental staff. Borne as an ensign of honour before magistrates, and is frequently given to such when they obtain a grant of arms.

Mackerel. A fish.

Macles or Mashes. See Mascle.

Maconne. The same as Masoned.

Magpie. A bird. 

Mahogany. A tree.

Maiden's-head. Always depicted as the head and neck of a woman couped below the breast.

Mail. Defensive-armour, represented like scales of fish, as the Habergeon.

Mailed. Clothed with mail.

Main. A hand.

Maintenance, Cap of. Also termed a Chapeau.

Majesty, In His. Applied to the eagle when crowned and holding a sceptre.

Male-Griffin. Also termed an Alce.

Male-tiger. See Heraldic Tiger.

Mallard. A wild duck.

Malta, The Knight of. See Hospitallers.

Maltale. A Maunch, as borne by Hastings, is called by Legh, a Maunch Maltale, i.e., ill-shaped, or cut.

Man. And parts of his body in various attitudes, are common in Coat Armour. Each part will be found under its respective term. As Man's Head, Arm, Leg, Hand. Observe that when the temples, or body of a man or woman are encircled with laurel, oak, etc., you are to say wreathed with laurel, oak, or whatever it may be; and in describing the upper parts of a man as cut, or torn off, you must say that he is couped, or erased at the neck, shoulders, or knees, as the case may be. When cut off about the middie he is called a Demi-man. See Arm, Hand, Head, and Legs.

Man's Head. A Man's Head in Heraldry is always understood to be an old man's head, with beard, etc., if not otherwise expressed.

Man's head on a dish. Called the head of St. John the Baptist.

Man-wolf. See War-Wolf.

Manche or Maunch. An old fashioned sleeve.

Mancheron. A sleeve.

Manchet or Mancher. Cake of bread. See Wastel-cake.

Mandrake. A vegetable root.

Maned. Said of any beast having a mane of a different tincture to the body. Also termed Crined.

Mangonel. See Swepe.

Mantelle or Mantelée. See Chappe.

Mantle or Cloak. Whereon the achievements are depicted in blazon must be said to be doubled, i.e. lined throughout with some one of the furs, etc. That of the Sovereign being gold doubled with ermine. Those of the Nobility gules, doubled ermine. Those of the Gentry gules doubled with white silk, or miniver. In blazoning this latter the doubling must be termed white not argent. See Robe. 

Mantlet. A short wide cloak, with which Knights formerly covered their shields.

Mantling. A term applied to the eagle when stretching out both legs and wings.

Mantling, Cappeline or Lambrequin. Which see.

Mantyll. See Mantle.

Map. A representation of any part of the surfaceof the earth drawn on paper or other material; also termed a chart.

Marcassin. A young wild boar, distinguished from the old by his pendant tail. The tail of the old boar is always curled.

Marchioness. The wife of a Marquis.

Marigold. See Marygold.

Marined. A term used for an animal with the lower parts of the body like a fish, as a Sea-lion. Most animals are found so joined to the tail of a fish, and are blazoned a Sea-horse, A Sea-Unicorn, a Sea-Wolf, Sea-Bear, etc.

Marine-wolf. A seal.

Marks of Cadency. See Cadency and Distinction of Houses.

Marlet. See Martlet.

Marlions or Merlions-wings. The wings of a Martlet.

Marquess or Marquis. Hereditary title, next in rank to a Duke. The eldest son of a Marquis, by courtesy, is called Earl, or Lord of a Place, and the younger sons Lords, with the addition of their Christian name. All the daughters of a Marquis are Ladies. The armorial hearings of a Marquis are distinguished by his Coronet and Mantle.

Mars. In blazon signifies red.

Mars. The astronomical character of Mars is borne in thc Arms of Stocken- strorn, Bateman, Wimble, etc. Mars signifies red, in blazoning arms by planets.

Marshal of England. The chief officer of arms, as the Earl Marshal, a great officer of the crown, who takes cognizance of all matters of the law of arms. The office belongs, by hereditary right, to the Duke of Norfolk. See Earl Marshal.

Marshalling. Is the right disposing of more than one Coat of Arms in one Escutcheon, either by impaling or quartering, and of distinguishing their parts, and contingent ornaments, in their proper places, thereby shewing alliances, descents, etc. See Pedigree. In Marshalling quarterings, the shield of the earliest Heiress, whom the bearers ancestor has married, is placed first after the paternal coat; then succeed any quarterings her descent may bring in; the same is to be observed in respect to the second Heiress, and so on in chronological order. When a daughter becomes Heiress to her mother, also an Heiress, and not to her Father, which happens when the Father has a Son by another Wife, she bears her Mother's Arms with the shield of her Father on a Canton, taking all the quarterings to which her Mother was by descent entitled. When married, she conveys the whole to be borne on an Escutcheon of Pretence by her Husband, and transmit them at her death to be borne as quarterings by her descendants. A Grand Quartering is generally designed to denote the representation of a family different from that from which the possessor is descended in the linear male line; it usually accompanies the assumption of a second name, and unites the two associated coats so inseparably, that if they come to be Marshalled with other quarterings they are no longer (as in other cases) spread out among them, but they still remain together as a Grand Quartering. There is no general rule which coat shall take the first place. The paternal coat frequently retains it, but in many cases the assumed arms are borne as the first quarter. No person can claim a Coat of Anns of inheritance who is not lineally descended from the person to whom tlie arms were first granted, and no one can claim any right by inheritance until the death of his ancestor, but with some modification derived from the usage of arms. e.g. The Heir apparent is entitled, according to the custom of arms, to use his ancestor's coat with a label of three points. It will be as well to observe that no Husband can impale his Wife's arms with his own, on a Surcoat, Ensign, or Banner; nor can a Knight of any Order, when surrounding the shield with the motto of his Knighthood, bear his Wife's coat therein. Husband and Wife when she is an Heiress or Coheiress, the husband carries her arms in an escutcheon of pretence. When a Widow marries a second Husband he impales her paternal arms. Sea Funeral Achievements.

Marshal's Staff. See Baton.

Martin or Marten. A kind of weasel sometimes called a Martin-cat.

Martel. A hammer.

Martlet, Merlion or Martinet. French Merlette or Merlot. Latin Mercula. Is a bird shaped like a swallow with a forked tail, and two tufts instead of legs. These tufts are shaped like erasures. It is the distinctive mark of the fourth house.

Marygold. A flower.

Mascle. Is of a lozenge form, but always perforated.

Mascle-head, or top. A chev. with the top fretted over, in the form of a Mascle.

Mascles conjoined. The points touching each other, as four mascles conjoined in cross.

Mascules or Mascally. See Masculy, Masculy, covered with Mascles.

Masoned, Masonry or Maconné. Represents the cement in stone buildings.

Mastiff. A dog.

Match. Formerly used to fire cannons and borne in the Arms of Leet.

Mateley-cross. A Cross Aiguise, or Urdee.

Maul or Beetle. A wooden hammer.

Maunche, Maunchenale, Maunchmale or Moncheé. See Manche.

Maw or Sea-Mew. The common gull.

Mawritanians Head. A moor's head.

Mayor. Formerly Major, i.e. the first or senior alderman. The Lord Mayor of London, as the chief magistrate is called; is properly speaking, only Mayor of London and Lord of Finsbury. This latter title was conferred, on His gift of the manor of Finsbury, by Richard II., in consequence of Sir William Walworth (then Mayor of London) killing Wat Tyler in Smithfield.

Mearemaid. See Mermaid.

Medal. A badge of metal, struck in honour of some valiant achievement, or to commemorate some great event, or remarkable discovery. It is borne suspended from the shield, and is frequently given as a charge in Coat Armour. Albert medal. This decoration was instituted 7th March, 1866, to be awarded, in cases where it shall be considered fit to such persons as shall endanger their own lives in saving, or endeavouring to save the lives of others from shipwreck or other perils of the sea. There are two classes. The Medal of the First Class is of gold, enamelled dark blue with Monogram V and A interlaced with an anchor erect in gold, surrounded with a Garter in bronze, inscribed in raised letters of gold "For Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea", and surmounted by a Crown representing that of Prince Albert. The Ribbon is dark-blue, inch width, with four white longitudinal stripes. In the Second Class the medal is entirely of bronze, the Ribbon wide with two white stripes only. In April 1877, by the especial desire of Her Majesty the Albert Medal was to be given for saving life on Land. The First Class, the badge is gold, enamelled crimson, with Monogram V and A. The Second Class, the Medal is entirely of bronze. The Ribbon for both is crimson.

Medieval. Relating to the middle ages.

Meire or Meirre. The same as potent counter potent.

Melting Pot. See Furnace.

Melusina. Said to be half a woman, and half a serpent, after the fashion of a mermaid.

Membered. Explained under the term Bird.

Membre or Membrez. Same as Membered.

Meniver. See Miniver.

Menu of Vair or Menuvair. When the vair consists of six or more rows, it is so termed.

Merchant-Brig. See Ship.

Merchants' Marks. Devices adopted by wealthy merchants of the middle ages.

Merchant Service, Ensign of. Sea Ensign.

Mercury. In blazon, expresses the colour Purpure.

Mercurys-cap or Mercurial cap. The Petasus or winged cap.

Meridian. See Globe.

Merillion. An instrument used by hat-band makers.

Merle. A blackbird.

Merlet, Merlette or Merhon. A Martlet.

Merlette-displayed. The same as Allerion.

Merhon. See Merlet.

Merlin. A hawk. See Falcon.

Merlotte. A Martlet.

Mermaid. Half a woman and half a fish, usually depicted with comb and mirror.

Merman. Represented as half a man and half a fish. Also termed a Neptune and Triton.

Mertlet. See Martlet.

Mertrixes. Also termed a Martin, or Martin-Cat.

Mesle. A term used by Ferne, signifying Mingled, and applied by him in the same sense as Triangled.

Mesles. A term to describe the field when of metal and colour in equal proportions, as paly, bendy, etc.

Metals. Two only are used in heraldry, viz., gold and silver. See Tinctures.

Metamorphosed. When some portion of an animal has assumed a form different from the proper one.

Mew. A kind of Sea-Gull.

Mew. A Mew was a place of confinement for hawks.

Mewed-Hawk. i.e. a hawk with hood on.

Michael S., and S. George, Order of Knighthood. See Knighthood.

Mi-Couppe. Signifies the escutcheon parted per-fesse halfway across, some other partition line meeting it.

Midas-Head. A man's head with ass's ears.

Middle Base Point, Middle chief point. See Points of the Escutcheon.

Mill-Bill. See Mill Pick.

Mill-Inke. See Fer-de-Moline.

Mill-Pick. A tool used in dressing mill-stones.

Mill-Rind, Mill-Rine or Mill-Ink. Is the iron affixed to the centre of the mill-stone, by which it is turned by the wheel; also termed Fer-de-Mo.

Mill-Stone. Charged with a Fer-de- Moline.

Minervas Head. Minerva the goddess of wisdom and the fine arts, commonly represented with helmet, spear, and shield.

Miniver. A plain white fur.

Minnow. A small fresh-water fish.

Minster,or Cathedral. See Church.

Mipartee or Mi-Party. The division of the escutcheon half way down the pale, and then crossed by some other partition. See Mi-Taille.

Mirror. A looking glass.

Mi-Taille. A term to express that the escutcheon is cut only half way across, in bend sinister. If divided dexterways it is termed Mi-tranche. These divisional lines, together with those called Mi-party, and Mi-couppe, form three gyrons.

Mitre. The cap of dignity borne over the arms of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Established Church of England. The Mitre is sometimes borne as a charge and also as a crest.

Mitry. A bordure so termed when charged with Mitres.

Mitus. A bird of the pheasant kind.

Modilion, Catoose or Scroll. The foliage ornament of a pillar.

Moile. An ox without horns.

Molet or Mollet. See Mullet.

Monastery or Abbey in ruins. Borne by the name of Maitland; a monastery with two wings borne by Monkhouse.

Monchee. See Manche.

Monk. See Hermit.

Monkey. See Ape.

Monogram. A cypher composed for the most part of the initials of the bearers name intertwined.

Montant. The same as erect in pale.

Montese or Mountain-cross. Is a plain cross humettée.

Monuments and Tombs. All nations have in some way or another honoured valiant men and noble races by distinguished places of sepulture. But we now only treat of the time when it became cutomairy to bury in churches, and when certain distinctive marks were devised to denote the estate and condition of those who lay in the several places of repose. Kings and Princes were represented lying on thier tombs (which were made in the shape of altars), in their armour, with their escutcheons, crowns, and all other marks of royalty about them. Knights and Gentlemen could not be so represented unless they died on the field or within their own lordships. Those who died victorious in battle were depicted with sword naked, point upwards, on the dexter side; their shield on the sinister; their helmets on their heads. Those of the vanquished side who were slain, were represented without their surcoat, their sword in its scabbard; vizor raised, hands joined, as in prayer, on their breast; their feet on a dead lion. N.B. Those who died on their lordships were represented in a similar way, only that they had on their surcoat of arms. The son of a General, or Governor of a fortress, dying, while the place was besieged, was depicted in armour, with his head resting on a helmet instead of a pillow. If a Knight or Gentleman entered any re-ligious order when old, he was represented armed, but with the habit of his order instead of a surcoat. A Knight, or Gentleman, slain in single combat, was represented in armour, his axe out of his hand, his left arm crossed over his right. The Victor was similarly represented, but with his axe in his hand, and his right arm over his left. Those who had gone to the Holy Land were depicted with the right leg crossed over the left, and their sword drawn by their side; those who had vowed to go, but who died without accomplishing their vow, were depicted with their left leg over the right, and with their sword in its scabbard. Those who died prisoners are said to have been represented without spurs, helmet, or sword, though there is little warrant for this. By degrees these rules fell into disuse, and persons placed figures in any position they pleased upon monuments to suit their own fancy. See Crest.

Moon. See Crescent.

Moor's Head. Black's head, African or Negro's head are all drawn alike in Heraldry.

Mooted or Moulted. The same as Eradicated.

Morfex. A bird. 

Morion. A steel cap.

Moriscos's Head. A Negresses-head.

Morne or Mortne. Applied to a lion ramp. having neither tongue, teeth, nor claws.

Morse. The sea-lion.

Morse. A clasp usually ornamented.

Mortar. A thick short cannon mounted on a low carriage.

Mortcours, Morteres, Morterres or Morteries-Royalls.A candlestick used at funerals.

Morthead. See Mort's-head.

Mortier. A cap of estate.

Mortne. See Morne.

Mortised. See Enclave.

Mort's-Head. A death's head.

Moses-Head. A man's head with two rays of light, issuant from the temples like horns.

Mossu or Moussue. Rounded at the ends, as a cross mowrned, or blunted.

Motto or mot. A word or saying added to the Arms. Placed in a scroll, either under the shield, or above the crest, and sometimes in both places. The motto is of universal use among all nobility and gentry. It does not exclusively belong to Heraldry, and is not hereditary, but may be taken, varied, or relinquished at pleasure. Still there is a pride in using a time honoured sentiment, particularly when it is commemorative of some deed of chivalry. Mottoes are for the most part either in Latin or French; but they are met with in Hebrew, Greek, Italian, Spanish, German, Welsh, Irish, Scotch, etc.

Moulin, Fer-de. See Fer-de-Moline.

Moulted. See Eradicated.

Mound, from Mundus the world. It is also called the Golden Orb, and is the emblem of Sovereignty, Authority and Majesty. It forms part of the regalia of an Emperor or King. It is represented as a ball encircled with a horizontal band, from the upper edge of which springs a semicircular band, both are enriched with diamonds and precious stones, and placed on the top of the ball is a cross pattée.

Mount. The bottom of the shield represented green and curved. Animals and heraldic figures are very frequentky placed on a mount and borne as Crest.

Mount-Grieced. Or in degrees, i.e. cut in the form of steps.

Mountain-Cat. See Cat-a-Mountain.

Mountain-Inflamed. It is also termed a burning hill or mount.

Mountain or Montese Cross. A plain cross humettee.

Mounted. A term applied to a cross placed on grieces, or steps. Also to the horse bearing a rider.

Mounting. Applied to beasts of chase when in the position of rampant.

Mourn or Mourned. Blunted applied to the spikes in the top of the Cronel.

Mouse-Rere. See Reremouse.

Mousue or Mossu. Rounded at the extremities as a Cross Blunted.

Mowrned. See Mousue.

Mule or Moyle. An animal.

Mullet. Supposed to be the rowel of a spur, should consist of five points. When of more than five points should be blazoned a Star of six, eight, or more points, the number being named.

Mullet, the fish so named.

Muraille or Murallée. When an ordinary is represented walled, embattled and masoned.

Mural Crown. See Crown.

Murex-Ferreus. See Galtrap.

Murr. See Auk.

Murrey-Colour. Dark brown, the same as sanguine. The Lion in the arms of Thos. de Berton, of Shropham in Nor., is of this colour.

Muschetors. Black spots similar to ermine, the three dots being omitted.

Musimon. An animal with a goat's body and feet, ram's head and four horns.

Musion. Ancient name for cat. See Cat-a-mountain.

Musket. A fire-arm.

Muzzled. Said of any animal whose mouth is banded to prevent its biting. Bears are always borne muzzled, if not expressed to the contrary.

Myrtle or Oval Garland. Given to those who were victorious at the Julian Games.



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The Heraldry Dictionary by Armorial Gold Heraldry Services is provided as a free resource tool for Heraldry enthusiasts. The Heraldry Dictionary and the information contained therein, has been researched through original manuscripts and Armorial Gold’s own sources.  Reproduction in any form is prohibited. All rights reserved.