What Does the Coat of Arms Symbolize? Exploring the Meaning Behind This Iconic Emblem

Have you ever noticed the coat of arms displayed on official emblems or government documents? It’s an intricate symbol that can hold a lot of meaning and significance. You might find yourself wondering what exactly it signifies. Well, wonder no more! In this article, we will dive into the history and symbolism behind the coat of arms.

The coat of arms is a time-honored emblem that traces its roots back several centuries. It’s a symbol that represents a particular family, organization, or city. Each component of the coat of arms has its meaning, so much so that it’s like a visual representation of a story. It’s a symbol that can communicate many things, such as strength, loyalty, and honor. By understanding what the coat of arms represents, we can gain insight into the values and ideals of a group or nation.

So, what exactly does the coat of arms symbolize? It can symbolize various aspects such as heritage, loyalty, and bravery. It often features a shield in the middle, with different colored stripes or patterns running through it. Around the shield, you may see ornate embellishments such as flowers or animals. Each of these elements is rich in symbolism, such as the colors used indicating values like courage, justice, and wisdom. Whether you are looking at a coat of arms in a museum or on an official document, it’s a piece of art steeped in history and meaning.

Origin and History of Coat of Arms

The coat of arms is a distinctive heraldic design that was first used in the Middle Ages in Europe. It was originally a coat, surcoat, or tabard worn over the knight’s armor to identify him in battle. The design on the coat evolved into a family emblem that displayed specific symbols that represented the owner’s family heritage, values, and achievements. The coat of arms was not only a mark of personal identity but also a symbol of social status.

The history of the coat of arms dates back to ancient times, where military insignias were used to identify leaders and their armies. Over time, these symbols became more sophisticated, and their meanings were given greater importance. In the Middle Ages, shields adorned with symbols made their appearance, representing a knight’s identity and the family or organization he represented. These symbols, known as charges, were often animal or plant figures.

The use of the coat of arms spread throughout Europe during the 12th century, and it became a formal method of identifying and highlighting the nobility. The right to bear arms was a privilege reserved for the wealthy, and the process of creating a coat of arms involved a costly and extensive process led by heralds. Heralds were a group of individuals responsible for designing and granting the rights to bear arms.

  • The design of the coat of arms was significant in the following ways:
  • The colors used in the coat of arms signified specific meanings. For example, red stood for strength and valor, blue for loyalty and truth, and green for hope and joy.
  • The animals and plants used in the design denoted specific meanings. For instance, a lion represented courage and power, while a rose symbolized love and beauty.
  • The shape of the shield and the layout of the design were interpretative features in the coat of arms. For example, a downward pointing triangle indicated battle and warfare.

The coat of arms continued to evolve through the centuries, and it became popular among the general population. It was no longer reserved for the aristocracy. People began to create their own coats of arms, using designs and colors that held personal significance to them.

Country Year Adopted Note
England 1215 Earliest date of registration
France 1180 Considered the first official coat of arms
Germany 1200s One of the earliest countries with heraldry
Spain 1500s No formal heraldic system

Today, coat of arms are not only used to represent family history, but also used by governments, organizations, and institutions. They serve as a symbol of identity, pride, and success.

Elements and components of a coat of arms

A coat of arms, also known as an armorial achievement, is a symbol or design that represents an individual, family, or organization. It typically consists of several elements and components that convey important meanings and messages.

  • The Shield: The shield is the central component of a coat of arms. It is usually divided into several sections, each of which features a different design or image. The images may represent various characteristics such as strength, courage, loyalty, or heritage of the individual or organization.
  • The Mantle: The Mantle is a decorative cloth that drapes over the shield. It is typically adorned with gold or other precious metals. The color and design of the mantle often reflect the individual or organization’s background.
  • The Helmet: The helmet is often placed on top of the shield and represents the warrior or knight. The style of helmet may vary depending on the historical era the coat of arms represents.

Other common components of a coat of arms include:

  • The Crest: The crest typically tops the helmet and features various symbols that are unique to the individual or organization.
  • The Supporters: Supporters are images that flank the shield and represent the loyalty and support of a particular group or organization. They could be animals, objects, or human figures and are usually chosen for their significance or importance to the organization.
  • The Motto: A motto is a short phrase or sentence that expresses the values or beliefs of the individual or organization. It is typically displayed on a banner beneath the shield.

Colors and symbols of a coat of arms

The colors and symbols of a coat of arms are just as important as its components. Each color and symbol has its meaning, and the combination of these elements can provide a comprehensive depiction of the individual or organization.

The following table shows some of the most common colors and symbols found in a coat of arms:

Color Symbol Meaning
Red Lion Courage, bravery, and loyalty
Blue Eagle Intelligence, strength, and purity
Green Oak tree Strength, fortitude, and noble birth
Gold Sun Radiance, prosperity and wisdom

The colors of a coat of arms often represent the noble character traits of the individual or organization. The symbols, on the other hand, express specific aspirations, affiliations, or accomplishments. When combined, these components create a powerful image that communicates the ideals and values of the individual or organization.

Heraldic colors and their meanings

Coat of arms is a unique symbol that reflects one’s family history and values. One of the important elements of a coat of arms is the use of heraldic colors, which have their own meanings and significance.

There are two types of heraldic colors: metal and color. The metals are gold and silver, while the colors are red, blue, green, black, and purple. These colors have specific meanings in heraldry:

  • Red – symbolizes courage, bravery, and military strength
  • Blue – represents truth and loyalty
  • Green – is a symbol of hope, joy, and loyalty in love
  • Black – signifies constancy or grief
  • Purple – represents royal majesty, sovereignty, and justice

These colors can be combined with metals to create even more symbolism. For example, gold and red may represent a warrior’s heart and spirit, while silver and blue may symbolize the sea and naval power. The following table shows some common combinations:

Color/Metal Meaning
Gold (or Yellow) Generosity and elevation of the mind
Silver (or White) Purity and innocence
Red and Gold Nobility and military strength
Blue and Silver Truth and loyalty
Green and Gold Hope, joy, and loyalty in love
Purple and Silver Royal majesty and sovereignty

Understanding the heraldic colors and their meanings is an important aspect of interpreting a coat of arms. Knowing the symbolism behind the colors and how they are combined can provide insight into the values and history of a family.

Symbolism of animals in coat of arms

Animals have always played a significant role in the world of coat of arms, symbolizing various traits like strength, loyalty, courage, and more. Let us explore the meanings of some of the animals commonly found in coat of arms.

  • Lion: Known as the ‘king of beasts,’ lions represent courage, strength, and valor in coat of arms. They are often depicted as fierce and regal and are a popular choice for royalty.
  • Eagle: This bird of prey represents nobility, strength, and freedom. It is a popular choice for coat of arms of countries and states and symbolizes the spirit of a nation.
  • Bear: Bears often represent strength, cunning, and protection. They are also associated with ferocity and are used to depict bravery and courage.

Each coat of arms is unique in its design, and the animals depicted on them have various interpretations. Here are a few examples:

The coat of arms of England features three lions, known as the ‘Lion Rampant,’ which symbolize strength, bravery, and royalty. The lion’s position, known as ‘rampant,’ means standing upright with one paw raised and is a symbol of power and aggression.

The coat of arms of Scotland features a unicorn, which represents purity, gracefulness, and nobility. It is a mythical creature and is often depicted as a symbol of power and strength. In Scotland, the unicorn is also a national animal.

The coat of arms of Ireland features a harp, which is not an animal but is a symbol of music and culture. The harp represents the love of learning and the arts and is a national symbol of Ireland.

Animal Meaning Coat of Arms Example
Lion Courage, strength, royalty Coat of Arms of England
Eagle Nobility, strength, freedom Coat of Arms of the United States
Bear Strength, cunning, protection Coat of Arms of Berlin, Germany

Animals have been used to represent various virtues and traits in coat of arms for centuries. The choice of animal and its portrayal in the coat of arms depends on the message the designer wants to convey. The use of animals in coat of arms has played an essential role in preserving the history and culture of a country or organization.

Meaning of plants and trees in coat of arms

Plants and trees have been significant features in the design of coat of arms for many centuries. They are used to represent different virtues, aspects of nature, and beliefs. The specific type of plant or tree used can also have a regional or national significance, depending on where the coat of arms originates from. Here are some meanings behind the most commonly used plants and trees:

  • Oak: A symbol of strength, endurance, and steadfastness. It is commonly found in European coat of arms, especially those of the United Kingdom.
  • Laurel: Representing victory and achievement, this plant is often used in military-themed coat of arms. It is also a symbol of learning and academic achievement.
  • Rose: A symbol of love, beauty, and purity. Different colored roses can represent different meanings, such as red for love and passion, yellow for friendship, and white for purity.

Other plants and trees that have been used in coat of arms include:

  • Thistle
  • Maple leaf
  • Palm tree
  • Lotus flower
  • Eagle feather

It is important to note that the meaning behind each plant and tree symbol can vary depending on the context in which it is used. For example, while the thistle is often used to represent Scotland, it can also be used to represent resilience and durability.

To understand the specific meaning behind the plants and trees used in a particular coat of arms, it is necessary to research its origin and history. This will provide clues as to how the designers intended for the symbols to be interpreted.

Plant/Tree Meaning
Oak Strength, endurance, steadfastness
Laurel Victory, achievement, learning
Rose Love, beauty, purity

The use of plants and trees in coat of arms is a rich tradition that adds depth and meaning to the design. Understanding the specific significance of these symbols can help us appreciate the historical and cultural context in which the coat of arms was created.

Significance of Crowns and Helmets in Coat of Arms

The symbols found in a coat of arms are steeped in tradition and meaning. Each element has a particular significance, and the crown and helmet are no exception. These two symbols not only represent the social status of the person or family they represent but reveal something about their character and position in society.

  • Crowns: Crowns are items of headgear that have been used throughout history to denote power, authority, and status. In coat of arms, the crown informs the viewer about the social standing of the person or family they represent. The kind of crown included in a coat of arms varies depending on the rank of the individual or family. For instance, a prince would have a crown that is more elaborate than the one for a duke or an earl. The colors, metals, and gems used in the design of a crown can also carry meaning. For example, the red in a crown symbolizes courage and bravery, while the white symbolizes purity and innocence.
  • Helmets: Helmets are war gear that is traditionally worn by soldiers in battles. In a coat of arms, helmets are used to indicate the rank and social standing of the person or family it represents. The type of helmet that is used in a coat of arms also depends on social status. For example, someone who held a lower rank would have a simpler helmet design as compared to someone higher up in the social order. The decoration on a helmet usually corresponds to the same family’s coat of arms. Helmets also represent strength, power, and practicality, which are crucial in times of war or conflict.

Together, the crown and helmet in a coat of arms represent the rank, status, and social standing of the individual or family it represents. The design elements and colors incorporated into these symbols tell a lot about the person or family’s character and ideals. The use of these symbols has played an essential role in heraldry, and they continue to be used today, especially by those who hold positions of power and authority.

Below is a table showing the various crowns used in the coat of arms:

Crown Type Symbolic Meaning
Imperial Crown Royalty and Sovereignty
Diadem Power and Authority
Naval Crown Navy and Naval Powers
Civic Crown Civic Achievements and Accomplishments
Mural Crown City Walls and Fortifications
Eastern Crown Eastern Art and Culture

The myriad of crowns used in coat of arms adds to the rich historical and symbolic significance of this art form and allows individuals and families to express their unique identities.

Use of chevrons, stripes and other patterns in coat of arms

The use of patterns in coat of arms is not just for decoration or representation. These patterns hold meaning and significance that help in identifying a family, an institution or a country. Among the popular patterns used, chevrons and stripes are the most commonly seen.

  • Chevrons: This pattern consists of inverted V-shaped lines that are often used to represent roof rafters or a military sergeant’s chevron insignia. The number of chevrons can hold different meanings. For instance, three chevrons can represent a successful military career, while two chevrons may symbolize a long service in a company. In coat of arms, chevrons are often used to indicate protection, unity, and loyalty.
  • Stripes: This pattern consists of horizontal lines of equal width that run along a shield or a design. Striped patterns usually suggest military service or the rank of the person or family represented. In some cases, the stripes may also represent water, symbolizing a coastal region, or fire, signifying a person’s fervor and passion.
  • Other Patterns: Besides chevrons and stripes, other patterns like diamonds, crosses, checkers, and lozenges are used in coat of arms designs. These patterns help to add variation and personality to the coat of arms design.

The number 7 is significant in many ways, and in coat of arms, it holds a special meaning. According to the science of numerology, the number seven is known to symbolize spirituality, intuition, and good fortune. In coat of arms, the number seven can hold meaning in several ways. For instance, seven arrows may signify strength and readiness in war, while seven lions may represent the number of kingdoms conquered by a particular family. Additionally, seven tassels or knots may symbolize the seven liberal arts and sciences or the seven days of creation.

Symbol Meaning
Seven Arrows Strength and Readiness in War
Seven Lions Number of Kingdoms Conquered
Seven Tassels/Knots Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences or Seven Days of Creation

Overall, the use of patterns in coat of arms holds significant meaning and helps to create a unique representation of a family, institution, or country. Whether it’s chevrons, stripes, or other patterns, each symbol holds a story of its own, adding depth and personality to the coat of arms design.

Explanation of geometric shapes in coat of arms

The use of geometric shapes in a coat of arms holds great significance and can provide a deeper understanding of the meaning behind it. Each shape has its own distinct symbolism that dates back centuries, and understanding these symbols can reveal the story of the family or organization represented by the coat of arms. Here, we will delve deeper into the meaning behind the number 8 in a coat of arms.

Number 8

  • The number 8 featured in a coat of arms holds significant meaning as it represents regeneration, new beginnings and eternal life.
  • This number is often seen with religious significance, as it is symbolic of Christ’s resurrection on the eighth day.
  • The number 8 can also represent balance and harmony, as it is a perfect symmetry when turned on its side.

Other Geometric Shapes

In addition to the number 8, other geometric shapes commonly found in coat of arms include:

  • The shield, which represents protection and defense.
  • The circle, which symbolizes continuity and eternity.
  • The crescent, which represents triumph against darkness or adversity.
  • The diamond or lozenge, which represents justice and balance.

Color in Geometric Shapes

The colors used within these geometric shapes can also hold symbolic meaning. For example:

  • Red typically symbolizes courage and bravery.
  • Blue represents loyalty and truth.
  • Green represents hope and abundance.
  • Yellow or gold represents generosity and elevation of the mind.


Geometric shapes used in a coat of arms serve as a visual representation of the ideals and values that a family or organization upholds. These shapes and colors come together to create a unified emblem that tells a story. Understanding the symbolism behind the number 8 and other shapes can provide a greater depth of understanding and appreciation for the use of geometric shapes in a coat of arms.

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Importance of mottoes and slogans in coat of arms

Mottoes and slogans are an essential part of a coat of arms, as they provide insight into the values and beliefs of the owner or organization represented. The motto is a brief expression or phrase that sums up the purpose, goals, or ideals of the individual, family, or institution.

  • Mottoes can be traced back to medieval times when knights wore coats of arms to identify themselves on the battlefield. The motto often had a religious or patriotic flavor to inspire courage, honor, and chivalry. For example, the motto of the Order of the Garter, the oldest order of chivalry in England, is “Honi soit qui mal y pense,” meaning “Shamed be he who thinks evil of it.” This motto emphasizes the knight’s duty to uphold the honor and unity of the order.
  • In other cases, the motto may represent a specific family trait or occupation. For instance, the motto of the McLaughlin Family of Ireland is “Victory or Death,” as their ancestors were known for their bravery in battle. The motto of Clan MacLeod, a Scottish clan, is “Hold fast,” which signifies their steadfastness and loyalty to their traditions.
  • Similarly, slogans are used to convey a message or purpose of an organization or product. A slogan is a catchy phrase that is easy to remember and represents the essence of the brand or idea. In many cases, the slogan is included in the coat of arms to signify the values and mission statement of the company or institution. For example, the coat of arms of Harvard University includes the Latin motto “Veritas,” meaning “Truth,” and the slogan “Founded 1636,” indicating the heritage and prestige of the university.

The mottoes and slogans in a coat of arms serve as a reminder of the values and goals of the individual or organization and can inspire pride and loyalty among members or supporters. They also provide a glimpse into the history and culture of the group, reflecting their heritage and traditions.

Coat of arms Motto/Slogan
McLaughlin Family (Ireland) Victory or Death
Harvard University Veritas
Order of the Garter Honi soit qui mal y pense

In conclusion, mottoes and slogans are crucial elements of a coat of arms, representing the beliefs, values, and purpose of the individual or institution. They provide a unique window into the history and culture of the group, inspiring loyalty and pride among members and supporters.

Examples of famous coats of arms and their meanings

Coats of arms have been used for centuries to represent families, countries, and even organizations. They often include symbols that hold significant meaning and convey a message. Here are some examples of famous coats of arms and their meanings:

  • The United Kingdom: The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom features a lion representing England, a unicorn representing Scotland, and a harp representing Ireland. The motto, “Dieu et mon droit,” translates to “God and my right,” which reflects the monarch’s divine right to rule.
  • The United States: The Great Seal of the United States features an eagle with arrows in its left talon and an olive branch in its right talon, symbolizing the country’s ability to defend its freedom while also seeking peace. The thirteen stars above the eagle’s head represent the original thirteen colonies.
  • Spain: The Coat of Arms of Spain features the pillars of Hercules with a banner reading “Plus Ultra,” meaning “further beyond,” to represent the country’s exploration and expansion. The crowned shield in the center includes a castle, a lion, and red and gold stripes, which represent the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, and Aragon.

Symbolism in coat of arms

Each element in a coat of arms holds a different meaning. Here are some common symbols and what they represent:

  • Lion: A lion symbolizes strength, courage, and bravery.
  • Unicorn: A unicorn is a symbol of purity, virtue, and justice.
  • Eagle: An eagle symbolizes freedom, power, and vision.
  • Shield: A shield represents protection and defense.
  • Helmet: A helmet represents prowess in battle.
  • Crown: A crown represents sovereignty and power.

Colors in coat of arms

The colors used in a coat of arms also hold significant meaning. Here are some common colors and what they represent:

  • Red: Red symbolizes courage, bravery, and strength.
  • Blue: Blue represents loyalty, truth, and wisdom.
  • Green: Green symbolizes hope, joy, and loyalty in love.
  • Black: Black represents wisdom, prudence, and constancy.
  • White: White symbolizes peace and sincerity.
  • Gold: Gold represents generosity and elevation of the mind.
  • Silver: Silver symbolizes purity and sincerity.


Coats of arms serve as a way to represent a message, family, country, or organization. Each symbol, color, and element holds significant meaning and tells a story. By understanding the symbolism in coat of arms, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the history and values they represent.

Symbol Meaning
Lion Strength, courage, bravery
Unicorn Purity, virtue, justice
Eagle Freedom, power, vision
Shield Protection, defense
Helmet Prowess in battle
Crown Sovereignty, power

Symbols and their meanings.

What Does the Coat of Arms Symbolize? FAQs

1. What is a coat of arms?

A coat of arms is a design or emblem that represents a person, family, or organization. It usually includes symbols and colors that have specific meanings.

2. What do the symbols on a coat of arms mean?

The symbols on a coat of arms can represent a variety of things, such as strength, courage, loyalty, and faith. Some common symbols include lions, eagles, shields, and crowns.

3. Why do people use coat of arms?

Coat of arms were originally used by knights and nobles to distinguish themselves in battle. Today, they are used by families, organizations, and even countries to represent their identity and values.

4. How do you create a coat of arms?

To create a coat of arms, you should research the meanings of different symbols and colors and choose ones that represent you or your organization. You can then design the coat of arms using software or hire a professional artist to create it.

5. Can anyone use a coat of arms?

Technically, anyone can create and use a coat of arms, but certain countries have laws regulating their use. In some cases, you may need to obtain permission or register your coat of arms with the government.

6. What is the history of coat of arms?

Coat of arms have been used since medieval times as a way for knights to distinguish themselves in battle. Over time, they came to be used by noble families and eventually by organizations and countries.

7. Why is it important to know about coat of arms?

Understanding coat of arms and their symbolism can help you better understand your family or organization’s identity and values. It can also be an interesting way to connect with history and tradition.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to learn about what does the coat of arms symbolize. Whether you have a coat of arms of your own or simply find the history and symbolism fascinating, we hope this article has been informative. Be sure to visit again for more interesting articles and stories!