Symbolism of Heraldry (P2)

Symbolism of Heraldry

The meaning of colours and images on surname coats of arms (family crests) and shields (Page 2)

A listing with their meaning for some of the most commonly used images used in heraldry, appearing on surname coats of arms (or family crests), shields and crests (the smaller image above the helmet on a coat of arms), along with the heraldic colours (or tinctures) used.

Also see: What is a Coat of Arms?

This Page (2): Heraldic symbolism used on shields, coats of arms (family crests) and images.

Page 1 includes heraldic colours (tinctures), shields and ordinaries, heraldic lines used on shields and coats of arms (family crests).

Acorn: Antiquity and strength.
Anchor: Hope and religious steadfastness.
Angel: Dignity, glory and honour, bearer of joyful news.
Annulet: Fidelity.
Apple (Tree): Liberality, felicity, peace, and perpetual concordance.
Arrow: Readiness for battle.
Ass: Patience and humility.
Axe: Execution of military duty.


Battle Axe: Execution of military duty.
Bear: Strength, ferocity, and protection.
Bell: Power to disperse evil spirits.
Bell (Clock Tower): Integrity.
Boar: Bravery, fights to the death.
Boar’s Head: Hospitality.


Camel: Docility, patience, perseverance.
Castle (Tower): Safety and protection.
Crescent: Honoured by the sovereign, hopes of greater glory.
Cross: Faith, Christianity, service in the Crusades


Dog: Courage, vigilance, loyalty.
Dolphin: Swiftness, charity, diligence, salvation, love.
Dove: Love and peace, the Holy Spirit.
Dragon: Valiant defender of treasure, protection.
Duck: Person of many resources.


Eagle: Strength, power and status, military prowess and leadership.
Eagle with two heads: Conjoining of two forces.
Elephant: Great strength, longevity, royalty, luck and ambition.
Ermine mark: Mark of dignity.
Escallop: Victorious naval commander or traveller to far places.
Estoile: A noble person, celestial goodness.


Falcon or Hawk: One who is hot in the pursuit of an object much desired.
Feathers (Ostrich): Obedience and serenity.
Fire: Zealousness.
Fish: Generous mind, virtuous for himself, symbol of Christ and spiritual nourishment.
Flag or Pennant: Special action or a reward for valiant service.
Fleur-de-lis: Purity, light, floral badge of France (flower of the lily, or iris).
Flowers: Hope and joy.
Fountain: Water, a spring.
Fox: Wisdom and wit, cunning.
Fret (or Fretty): Persuasion.
Fruit: Felicity and peace.
Fusil: Labour and travel.


Galley (Ancient Ship): Ancient sea voyages.
Garb or Wheatsheaf: Harvest of one’s hopes has been secured.
Gauntlet: Armed for martial enterprise.
Globe: Worldliness or world travel.
Goat: Success through politics instead of war.
Grapes: Liberality, felicity, peace, also wine-making.
Grenade: Use of such a weapon in battle.
Greyhound: Vigilance, courage and loyalty.
Griffin: Valour and bravery, vigilance, guardian of treasure.


Hammer: Honour, symbol of a smith’s trade.
Hand: Commitment of faith, sincerity, justice.
Hand (Red): Mark of a baronet.
Harp: Contemplation, bridge between heaven and earth.
Hawks’ Lures: Highest pursuits, hunting and falconry.
Head (Human): Honour. Moor’s Head: deeds of prowess in the Crusades.
Heart: Charity and sincerity.
Helmet: Wisdom and security in defence, strength, protection.
Holly: Truth, foresight, defence.
Horse: Employment for king and country.
Horseshoe: Good luck and protection against evil spirits.
Hunting Horn: Fond of the chase and high pursuits.


Increscent: Honoured by the sovereign, hopes of greater glory.
Iris: Faith, wisdom, valour, hope.


Jaguar: Power, ferosity, valour.
Jessant de lis: Dominion over France.


Keys: Guardianship and dominion.
Knight (on Horseback): Journey through life, the soul guiding the body.


Label: A first-born.
Ladder (Scaling): Fearless in attacking, guard against spiritual enemies.
Lamb: Gentle and patient while suffering.
Lamb carrying staff (Paschal Lamb): Faith; bravery, innocence, gentleness, purity, resolute spirit.
Lance (Javelin): Symbol of knightly service, devotion to honour.
Laurel: Peace, success, glory and victory.
Leopard (Ounce): Hardy and valiant warrior, force and courage.
Lion: Bravery, courage, strength, ferocity, valour.
Lozenge (Lozengy): Honesty and constancy.
Lymphad (Ancient Ship): Ancient sea voyages.


Martlet: The fourth son, acquired nobility through his own efforts or by patronage.
Mascle: Persuasiveness.
Mermaid: Eloquence.
Millrind: A miller’s tool, mutual converse of human society.
Monkey: Sagacity, or wisdom.
Moon: Serene power.
Moor (Head): From the Middle Ages when it was an considered an honour to take such a head.
Moorcock: Connection to law or the legal profession.
Mullet (Star): Divine quality from above.


Nettle Leaf: Pride, vanity, ‘sting of death’.


Oak (Tree and Leaves): Great age and strength, victory and heroism.
Olive Branch (or Leaves): Reconciliation and peace.
Owl: Vigilance and wit.
Ox: Generosity and valour.


Palm (Tree or Leaves): Justice, victory, peace, creative power, conquest and success.
Pansy: Thoughtful recollection.
Parrot (or Popinjay): Business acumen, administrative achievement.
Passion Nail: Poignant suffering undergone by the bearer.
Peacock: Beauty, knowledge, power.
Pear: Peace and felicity.
Pelican: Charitable nature, self-sacrifice.
Pen: Education and writing.
Pheasant: Person of many resources.
Pheon (or Spear Head): Ready for battle, nimble wit.
Phoenix: Resurrection.
Pig: Fertility.
Pilgrim’s Stave or Staff: A shepherd’s watchfulness, pastoral authority, Christian faith, reference to early pilgrimages to Jerusalem.
Pine (and Cones): Death, followed by eternal (after)life.
Pineapple: Warm hospitality, celebration.
Pitcher: Office of service.
Plant: Hope and joy.
Plow (Ploughshare): Labouring in the earth.
Plume of feathers: Serenity of mind and willing obedience.
Poppy: Hope and joy.
Portcullis (Castle Gate): Protection during an emergency.
Proboscides: Elephant trunks: strength, longevity, dignity, royalty, patience, wisdom, good luck, happiness.


Quatrefoil (Primrose): Bringer of good tidings.


Rabbit (or Hare): A peaceable and retired life.
Ram: Authority.
Raven: Divine providence.
Rhinoceros: Ferocious when needed.
Rock: Refuge, safety and protection.
Rose: Hope and joy, mark of the seventh son. If a Red Rose: Love and desire, grace and beauty.
Roundle (Gold Bezant): Byzantine coins, worthy of trust or treasure.


Sabre (Sword): Military honour, justice.
Salamander: Protection.
Savage or Saracen: Service in the Crusades.
Scales: Justice.
Sceptre: Symbol of justice.
Scythe or Sickle: Hope of a fruitful harvest.
Sea Horse or Sea Dragon: Power of the sea or water.
Serpent, Snake or Lizard: Wisdom.
Shamrock: Perpetuity, floral symbol of Ireland.
Ship: Sea voyages.
Spear: Valiant knight, honourable warrior.
Spur (or Rowel): Active service.
Squirrel: Fondness for the woods.
Stag: Peace and harmony, unwilling to fight unless provoked.
Star (Mullet): Divine quality from above.
Stork: Close parental bond, filial duty.
Sun: Fountain of life, glory and splendour.
Swan: Grace, sincerity, perfection, light, love.
Swords and Darts: Military honour and justice.


Talbot (hunting dog): Vigilance, courage and loyalty.
Thistle: Defiance and surliness.
Tiger: Fierceness and valour, dangerous if aroused.
Tower (Castle): Safety and grandeur.
Tree Trunk, Stump, Stock or Branch: New life sprouting from the old.
Tree: Life and connection of the earth with heaven and the underworld.
Trefoil: Perpetuity.


Unicorn: Virtue and strength, strong courage.


Vol (Wings): Protection and swiftness.
Vulture: Purification and maternity.


Water Bouget: A person who carried water to an army or a besieged place.
Wheat-Ear: Faithful.
Wheel: Fortune; cycle of life.
Wolf: Reward from perseverance in long sieges.
Wreath (of laurel leaves): Triumph.
Wyvern: Valour and protection.

Page 1 | Page 2 (of 2)