Canting arms


Canting arms

Canting arms is a technique used in European heraldry whereby the name of the individual or community represented in a coat of arms is "translated" into a visual pun or rebus. The term probably originally came from the same root as the term 'cant' (originally to sing) in the meaning of slang or argot. Other languages call it speaking arms, e.g. in Dutch "sprekend wapen".

An example of canting arms are those of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who was born Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Her arms, shown to the right, contain in sinister (i.e. on the wearer's left, viewer's right) the bows and blue lions that make up the arms of the Bowes and Lyon families.

Rebus coat-of-arms

When the visual representation is not straightforward but as complex as a rebus, this is sometimes called a "rebus coat of arms".

Examples of canting arms

Canting arms – some in the form of rebuses – are quite common in German civic heraldry. They have also been increasingly used in the 20th century among the British royal family.

ources and references

(incomplete)
* [http://www.heraldica.org/topics/meaning.htm on Heraldica.org]


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  • Canting arms — Canting Cant ing, a. Speaking in a whining tone of voice; using technical or religious terms affectedly; affectedly pious; as, a canting rogue; a canting tone. {Cant ing*ly}, adv. {Cant ing*ness}, n. [1913 Webster] {Canting arms}, {Canting… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • canting arms — plural noun (heraldry) A coat of arms in the form of a rebus, or a visual pun on the bearer s surname • • • Main Entry: ↑cant …   Useful english dictionary

  • canting arms — plural noun Heraldry arms containing an allusion to the name of the bearer. Origin C17: canting from cant1, in the obs. sense speak, say …   English new terms dictionary

  • Canting arms — Her. Describes a *charge in a coat of *arms used to suggest the owner s name; somewhat like but not strictly a *rebus …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • Canting — Cant ing, a. Speaking in a whining tone of voice; using technical or religious terms affectedly; affectedly pious; as, a canting rogue; a canting tone. {Cant ing*ly}, adv. {Cant ing*ness}, n. [1913 Webster] {Canting arms}, {Canting heraldry} (Her …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Canting heraldry — Canting Cant ing, a. Speaking in a whining tone of voice; using technical or religious terms affectedly; affectedly pious; as, a canting rogue; a canting tone. {Cant ing*ly}, adv. {Cant ing*ness}, n. [1913 Webster] {Canting arms}, {Canting… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • Coat of arms — redirects here. For the album by Sabaton, see Coat of Arms (album). Shield Field Supporter Supporter …   Wikipedia

  • Attributed arms — are coats of arms given to legendary figures, or to notable persons from times before the rise of heraldry. Beginning in the 12th century, imaginary arms were assigned to the knights of the Round Table, and soon arms were given to biblical… …   Wikipedia


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