A coat of arms consists of a shield as well as any supporters, crests and mottoes associated with it.
The main focus of the coat of arms is the shield on which the main design is displayed. The shape of the shield itself is largely irrelevant. The right and left sides of the shield are called Dexter and Sinister respectively, however this can be misleading as the left and right are always considered from the point of view of the shield itself so its right (Dexter) is your left and so on. Use of the correct terms prevents confusion.
While a coat of arms can theoretically make use of any colour, heralds traditionally confine themselves to a fairly limited palette. In our world heralds have specific rules concerning the use of colour which seem to be much more relaxed in Discworld. The main tinctures are listed below.
Some heraldic terms as used in discworld and their translations;
- Sans fenêtres - without windows
- Bourses d'or - bags of gold (The Bourse in Paris is also the French Stock Exchange, equivalent to Wall Street or the City of London)
- Croix - cross
- Clochette - litt. little bell
- Guardant - looking at the viewer
- Passant - walking
- Poignard - dagger
- Maçonnerie - masonry
- Rampant - standing/erect
- d'or - meaning "of gold", it may be intended to signify metallic gold as opposed to merely yellow or gold coloured but this has not been definitively stated.
It is interesting to note that Ankh-Morpork heraldry uses terms derived from French, a Discworld language we have not encountered otherwise, except in relation to food: most of the terms used in the restaurant in Hogfather are French. Also, Nanny Ogg uses a bastard version of French in many of her 'foreign' utterances. Though when she swears, she says "pardon my Klatchian".