A tabard is a short coat, either sleeveless, or with short sleeves or shoulder pieces, which was a common item of men's clothing in the Middle Ages, usually for outdoors. It might be belted, or not. Tabards might be emblazoned on the front and back with a coat of arms, and in this form they survive now as the distinctive garment of officers of arms in heraldry.

Middle Ages

A Tabard (from the French "tabarde") was originally a humble outer garment of tunic form, generally without sleeves, worn by peasants, monks and foot-soldiers, including Chaucer's ploughman. In this sense the first OED citation is 1300. See also The Tabard, the inn at which the principals meet in that same Prologue. () In the late middle ages tabards, now open at the sides and so usually belted, were worn by knights over their armour, and usually emblazoned with their arms (though sometimes worn plain). OED first records this use in English in 1450. In this meaning they were apparently distinguished from surcoats by being open at the side, and by being shorter. These became an important means of battlefield identification with the development of plate armor as the use of shields declined.

A very expensive, but plain, garment described as a tabard is worn by Giovanni Arnolfini in the Arnolfini Portrait of 1434 (National Gallery, London). This may be made of silk velvet and is trimmed and fully lined with fur, possibly sable. [National Gallery Catalogues: The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Paintings by Lorne Campbell, 1998, ISBN 185709171]

Similarly at Queens College, Oxford, the scholars on the foundation were called tabarders, from the tabard, obviously not an emblazoned garment, which they wore.Fact|date=February 2007

It can also be the British English word for a cobbler apron.Fact|date=February 2007

British Heraldry

In the case of Royal officers of arms, the tabard is emblazoned with the coat of arms of the sovereign. Private officers of arms, such as still exist in Scotland, likewise make use of tabards emblazoned with the coat of arms of the person who employs them. In the United Kingdom the different ranks of officers of arms can be distinguished by the fabric from which their tabards are made. The tabard of a king of arms is made of velvet, the tabard of a herald of arms of satin and that of a pursuivant of arms of damask silk. It was once the custom for pursuivants to wear their tabards with the sleeves at the front and back, but this practice was ended during the reign of James II and VII.


Popular Culture

Tabards are used in the identification of guilds in the fantasy role-playing game World of Warcraft.

ee also



Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • tabard — [ tabar ] n. m. • v. 1280; tabar v. 1240; o. i. ♦ Au Moyen Âge, Manteau court, ample, à manches formant ailerons et à fentes latérales, porté sur l armure. ● tabard nom masculin (moyen français tamparion) Manteau porté sur l armure, au Moyen Âge …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • TABARD (M.) — Maurice TABARD 1897 1984 Maurice Tabard, photographe phare des années 1920 et 1930 en France, est mort à Nice le 21 février 1984. Né à Lyon le 12 juillet 1897 dans une famille de soyeux, Maurice Tabard fut initié très jeuneà l’art. À partir de… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Tabard — Tab ard, n. [OE. tabard, tabart; cf. Sp. & Pg. tabardo, It. tabarro, W. tabar, LGr. ?, LL. tabardum.] A sort of tunic or mantle formerly worn for protection from the weather. When worn over the armor it was commonly emblazoned with the arms of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tabard — ist: Eine andere Schreibweise für das mittelalterliche Kleidungsstück Tappert Ein berühmtes Pub, das in den Canterbury Tales erwähnt wird Der Name eines britischen U Bootes, siehe HMS Tabard (P342) Di …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tabard — Nom porté dans des régions diverses (69, 23, 50, 39). Variantes : Tabart (80, 12), Tabar (Martinique, Guadeloupe). Voir Tabary …   Noms de famille

  • tabard — (n.) mid 13c., from early Sp. tabardo and O.Fr. tabart (12c.), of unknown origin. Originally a coarse, sleeveless upper garment worn by peasants, later a knight s surcoat (hence the name of the tavern in Canterbury Tales ) …   Etymology dictionary

  • tabard — /tabard/ A short gown; a herald s coat; a surcoat …   Black's law dictionary

  • tabard — [tab′ərd] n. [ME < OFr tabart] 1. a loose jacket of heavy material, sleeved or sleeveless, worn outdoors as by peasants in the Middle Ages 2. a short sleeved, emblazoned cloak worn by a knight over his armor 3. a herald s official coat… …   English World dictionary

  • Tabard — Recorded in many forms including Tabard, Tabord, Tabary, Tabart, Tabert and Tabbitt, this is a surname of French origins. Introduced into England after the famous Norman Invasion of 1066, it derives from the Old French words tabart or tabard ,… …   Surnames reference

  • Tabard — Tabar Pour les articles homonymes, voir Tabar (homonymie). Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, Lord Lyon, Roi d Armes, portant le tabard Le tabar ou tab …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.