In heraldry, a crest is a small emblem perched on top of the coat of arms. In origin it is a kind of nodding dog or furry dice affixed to the knight's helmets, though they usually went for things like the top half of a lion as their decorative bit.

Often the term 'crest' is erroneously used for the whole shield or coat of arms, or the design on it. This is bad heraldry and should not be said.

A coat of arms always has a shield, with some design on it. It may have other things around the shield, or you might find the shield displayed by itself. A coat of arms is also called an achievement.

Other things sometimes around a shield include the supporters, animals or people on either side holding it up; a grassy mound for it to rest on; and a helmet sitting on top of the shield.

The helmet typically has torn ribbons of cloth hanging from its back (the mantling), and a decorative device perched on top of it. It is this thing, the fal-lal over the helmet, that is the crest.

Crest (kr?st), n. [OF. creste, F. crte, L. crista.]


A tuft, or other excrescence or natural ornament, growing on animal's head; the comb of a cock; the swelling on the head of a serpent; the lengthened feathers of the crown or nape of bird, etc.


[Attack] his rising crest, and drive the serpent back. C. Pitt.


The plume of feathers, or other decoration, worn on a helmet; the distinctive ornament of a helmet, indicating the rank of the weare; hence, also, the helmet.

Stooping low his lofty crest. Sir W. Scott.

And on his head there stood upright A crest, in token of a knight. Gower.

3. Her.

A bearing worn, not upon the shield, but usually above it, or separately as an ornament for plate, liveries, and the like. It is a relic of the ancient cognizance. See Cognizance, 4.


The upper curve of a horse's neck.

Throwing the base thong from his bending crest. Shak.


The ridge or top of wave.

Like wave with crest of sparkling foam. Sir W. Scott.


The summit of a hill or mountain ridge.


The helm or head, as typical of a high spirit; pride; courage.

Now the time is come That France must vail her lofty plumed crest. Shak.

8. Arch.

The ornamental finishing which surmounts the ridge of a roof, canopy, etc.

The finials of gables and pinnacles are sometimes called crest. Parker.

9. Engin.

The top line of a slope or embankment.

Crest tile, a tile made to cover the ridge of a roof, fitting upon it like a saddle. -- Interior crest Fort., the highest line of the parapet.


© Webster 1913.

Crest, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Crested; p. pr. & vb. n. Cresting.]


To furnish with, or surmount as, a crest; to serve as a crest for.

His legs bestrid the ocean, his reared arm Crested the world. Shak.

Mid groves of clouds that crest the mountain's brow. Wordsworth.


To mark with lines or streaks, like, or regarded as like, waving plumes.

Like as the shining sky in summer's night, . . . Is crested with lines of fiery light. Spenser.


© Webster 1913.

Crest (kr?st), v. i.

To form a crest.


© Webster 1913.

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