her·​ald·​ry | \ ˈher-əl-drē How to pronounce heraldry (audio) , ˈhe-rəl- \
plural heraldries

Definition of heraldry

1 : the practice of devising, blazoning, and granting armorial insignia and of tracing and recording genealogies
2 : an armorial ensign broadly : insignia

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Did You Know?

The art and science of devising, displaying, and granting armorial insignia and of tracing and recording genealogies is called heraldry. The use of heraldic symbols, or “coats of arms,” as a means of identification spread through European nobility in the 13th century. The main way to display the heraldic devices is on a shield. The crest, a secondary device that emerged in the 14th century, was modeled onto the helm (helmet). Pictorial representations show the shield with the helm and crest above. “Arms” are protected by law in European monarchies and are hereditary; all male descendants of the first person to whom they were granted bear the arms.

Examples of heraldry in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Old Guard families, who, wealthy from industries whose economic miracle depended on free or exploited labor—the China trade, the railroads, manufacturing—began to supply themselves with heraldry and property. Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker, "What Henry Adams Understood About History’s Breaking Points," 30 Nov. 2020 The event kicked off May 2 with a solemn but colorful parade of flags and heraldry. Laura Mallonee, WIRED, "For These Sword-Wielding Warriors, Medieval Battles Live On," 27 Aug. 2019 Ascension is arguably the most princess-y, with its white and gray floral heraldry-like packaging and shades of sweet pastels and soft, neutral browns with names like Glass Slipper, Tulle, and Curtsy. Marci Robin, Allure, "CoverGirl’s New Royalty-Inspired Eye Shadow Palettes Are Giving Us Game of Thrones Vibes," 26 Apr. 2019 The British are known to take matters of heraldry seriously, and Mr. Trump’s American coat of arms belongs to another family. Danny Hakim, New York Times, "The Coat of Arms Said ‘Integrity.’ Now It Says ‘Trump.’," 28 May 2017 Historically admired by royalty, ermine pelts were used for royal robes, in portraits, and as a design in heraldry. National Geographic, "Before and After: See Animals Change Their Coats for Winter," 6 Feb. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'heraldry.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of heraldry

1572, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for heraldry

herald entry 1 + -ry

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Time Traveler for heraldry

Time Traveler

The first known use of heraldry was in 1572

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Statistics for heraldry

Last Updated

4 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Heraldry.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heraldry. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for heraldry


How to pronounce heraldry (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of heraldry

formal : the activity of creating or studying coats of arms and of tracing and recording family histories


her·​ald·​ry | \ ˈher-əl-drē How to pronounce heraldry (audio) \

Kids Definition of heraldry

: the art or science of tracing and recording family history and creating coats of arms

More from Merriam-Webster on heraldry

Nglish: Translation of heraldry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about heraldry

Comments on heraldry

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