AskDefine | Define fess

Dictionary Definition

fess n : (heraldry) an ordinary consisting of a broad horizontal band across a shield [syn: fesse]

User Contributed Dictionary



Old French fesse, an alteration of faisse from Latin fascia.


  • /fɛs/
    Rhymes: -ɛs


  1. In heraldry a horizontal band across the middle of the shield.
    • 1892: Lord Robert Walsingham de Vere St. Simon, second son of the Duke of Balmoral—Hum! Arms: Azure, three caltrops in chief over a fess sable. — Arthur Conan Doyle, ‘The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor’ (Norton 2005 p.294)

Extensive Definition

''FESS is also an acronym for functional endoscopic sinus surgery, and for the popular Fire Emblem website known as the Fire Emblem Sanctuary of Strategy.
In heraldry, a fess is a charge on a coat of arms that takes the form of a band running horizontally and centrally across the shield. Writers disagree in how much of the shield's surface is to be covered by the fess, ranging from one-fifth to one-third. A fess is likely to be shown narrower if it is uncharged, that is, if it does not have other charges placed on it, and/or if it is to be shown with charges above and below it; and shown wider if charged.
A mural fess can be seen in the arms of Suzanne Elizabeth Altvater.
A fess when couped ("cut off" at either end, and so not reaching the sides of the shield) can be called humetty, but this term is very rare in the Anglophone heraldries and is most often used of the cross.
A fess coticed (also spelt with two ts and/or an s) is closely contained between two narrow strips (cotises), one above and one below. A very unusual exception are the arms of Joseph Frederick Laevens, with a fess cotised on the lower edge.
Though the bar is sometimes termed a diminutive of the fess, this is not necessarily true, as the bar may be no narrower than the fess. In the heraldries of the British Isles two fesses are not usualy specified to appear on a shield together, the two fess-like charges being then termed bars. Narrower versions of the bar are called barrulets (little bars). The arms of Baroness Fritchie provide an example of three Barrulets fracted and there conjoined to a Chevronel.
The "fasce" in the colonial arms of Djidjelli, Algeria is blazoned as "tombant à dextre".
A fess the middle third metamorphosed into a chevron can be seen in the arms of the 364th Regiment of the United States Army.
The fess is one of the ordinaries in heraldry, along with the chief, bend, chevron and pale. There are several other ordinaries and sub-ordinaries.
A shield party per fess or just per fess is divided into two parts by a single line which runs in the direction of a fess.
A charge placed horizontally is blazoned fesswise or fessways. Two or more charges arranged in a horizontal row are blazoned in fess or in bar.
fess in Italian: Fascia araldica
fess in Hungarian: Pólya
fess in Japanese: フェス (紋章学)
fess in Swedish: Bjälke
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