The Military Badge Forum:
Glossary and Abbreviations

British Military Badge Forum

Common abbreviations
used, if any.
Term Details Images / examples / links
a/a,  ano. Anodised Aluminium  Aluminium insignia introduced early 1950s, replacing white, gilding and bi-metal types. Insignia constructed from aluminium with an anodised and coloured dye finish; commonly 'silver' or 'gold'. These colours corresponding to the white metal and gilding metal in the old insignia. Also referred to as "staybright". There now appears to be a move back to the tradition metals. silver anodised 10 GR
  Babin  "Canadian Expeditionary Force Cap Badges 1914-18
 by L.L. Babin" .   ISBN 0 903681 14 5

The most frequently quoted reference work on cap badges of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, with badges often identified between collectors simply with the relevant number: ie "Babin E-74"

see bibliography
  Backing Frequently a coloured fabric back cloth worn under a badge. The backing can be designed to show through a particular voided area of the badge only, or the whole badge, often being cut larger in the latter case. Backing material colour normally has some historical or regimental significance. Queen's Own Hussars Arm Badge with blue backing

2nd Gurkha Rifles with Red Backing.

  Bearskin cap Tall Ceremonial Headdress of the Guards Regiments and Fusilier Regiments, Constructed of black dyed bear skin. Often worn with a large version headdress badge. Northumberland Fusilier Officer Bearskin 1892-1914 (RNF Museum)

Irish Guards Bearskins (Modern)

  Blades A fixing made from metal bendable tabs attached to the back of a badge. These pass through the fabric and are bent closed to secure. Almost exclusive to headdress insignia, particularly OSD badges and o.r's WW2 plastic badges.  
b/b,  blk. Blackened-brass A brass badge with an applied dark paint or lacquer, often black or dark brown. Frequently encountered on Rifle and RVC unit insignia. The blackening process can also be applied "post issue" as a modification to insignia for operational reasons. (and hence possible on all metal types)  
b/m,  bi/m, bim Bi-metal Insignia constructed of at least two components of different metals, the phrase normally applied to badges combining white metal and gilding metal parts.
See example right: Hampshire regiment, with gilding metal rose and scroll, the rest white metal.
  Boss Hemispherical officers headdress device constructed from a tight spiral of coloured cord, normally mounted with a small version of a regimental badge, and fixed with a threaded post and nut. Common to Gurkha and Rifle Units .  
b Brass Yellow metal alloy used for for wide rage of military insignia. Term used by many collectors to include gilding metal. Composition generally 67% copper and 33% zinc. (Gilding metal, also a brass alloy, has a higher percentage content of copper. See below)  Usage: to define a badge of being constructed solely of brass. This can be of particular significance with regard to WW1 "economy" badges, which were labour saving substitutes of bi-metal badges.   
  Brazing Holes see sweat holes  
  Broach (& Brooch) (also 'pin and hook' or 'pin' fixing) an arrangement common on sweetheart and other unofficial and semi-official  insignia. Occasionally used on certain official issue, often Great War period badges, particularly Canadian and British war raised units. Also encountered on silver officers badges.
  Broached Term generally applied to a badges that have had a unofficial pin and hook broach fitted for wear, original fittings being cut or broken off. A repaired badge.  
bz,  bze Bronze Brass badge that has had a brown synthetic coating applied to give the badge a patinated bronze  appearance. Most frequently encountered on officers badges.
bullion Bullion thread Used to define certain types of cloth based insignia with the embroidered device constructed from coiled tubes of silver and/or silver-gilt wire "threads" (off-site wire images)
  Burnished A final finish given to some silver and gilt insignia whereby the surface is rubbed over with a burnishing tool to produce reflective bright spots.
  Busby Cylindrical fur cap particularly popular with pre WW1 hussars, yeomanry, and horse artillery units. pic required
Buttonhole Buttonhole badge Buttonhole: Fixing frequently used on badges worn on civilian dress.
 also buttonhole badge, and lapel badge
C.E.F. Canadian Expeditionary Force  The Canadian WW1 war raised units. In our case  the insignia of these units.
The CEF consisted of 260 numbered infantry battalions, 2 named infantry battalions (The Royal Canadian Regiment and Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry), 13 mounted rifle regiments, 13 railway troop battalions, 5 pioneer battalions, as well as field and heavy artillery batteries, ambulance, medical, dental, forestry, labour, tunnelling, cyclist, and service units.
 see LLWill collection
 Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group
Cap Cap Badge Tern used in a broad sense to mean headdress insignia, generally post 1896. Also used more specifically to differentiate between OSD headdress and collar insignia which were for a time identical apart from the fixings.  
C.C.N. Catalogues of Clothing and Necessaries  The Army official inventory of clothing: Defined as "Catalogues of Clothing and Necessaries" term used post 1949.  see VCN and PVCN  
  Caubeen Irish variant of the Tam O Shanter, taken from the traditional Irish peasants' headdress.  
  Churchill "History of the British Army Infantry Collar Badge" by Colin Churchill:  The most frequently quoted reference work on British infantry collar insignia
see bibliography
  Circlet Common design component in the form of a circular band with unbroken edges, generally contains a title or regimental motto.  
  Closed back Phrase applies to buttons.
A domed button where the back is "closed" with a circular plate. (see open back)
  Cloth Refers in the general sense to the large sub-section of insignia constructed of printed and embroidered woven and non-woven (felt) cloth.  
  Cloth Helmet Full dress Infantry helmet introduced in the 1870's, influenced by the German Army helmets of the period. These helmets marked the move away from the French style Shako. The helmet shell is generally constructed from cork with a dark blue or green cloth covering- white was also common for many overseas stations.  The helmet has a distinctive curb chain chin strap, peaks front and back, and a top spike.
Col, Cols, Collar Collar Badge A badge designed to be worn on the collar. Sometimes the same as the headdress badge (see cap badge). Collar badges often require a reversal of a design feature in asymmetric insignia to maintain a forward facing aspect, hence quite often matching pairs are specifically 'left' and 'right' badges.  
  Copy Reproduction insignia which is a copy of an original existing design. All copy insignia is clearly marked "copy" or similar. ( In reality "copy"  "fake" and "restrike" are commonly used interchangeably and without distinction)  
  Cox "Military Badges of the British Empire 1914-18" by Reginald H.W. Cox.
 A frequently quoted text on WW1 period British Empire Insignia.
  Die Struck Refers to a manufacturing process relevant to metal insignia, where the badge is struck out of sheet material between a pair of reusable male and female dies within a press.  
  Die Cast Refers to a manufacturing process relevant to metal insignia, where the badge is cast in molten metal in a reusable mold. These molds are referred to as dies.  
  Economy Primarily refers to the labour saving single metal (brass or gilding metal) substitutes produced during WW1 to replace the pre war bi-metal designs. Also includes the WW2 plastic substitutes produced from early 1942, which were introduced as a metal conserving measure. (In both cases production reverted to the original metals in the post war periods)
Enam. Enamel Infilling of coloured glass encountered on some officer insignia and sweetheart broaches. see Canadian officers RCAOC
Emb. Embroidered Cloth insignia construction technique whereby the design is built from coloured thread, as opposed to printed methods.  
  Fake Reproduction insignia which is a copy of an original existing design. Deliberately produced to imitate an original. Frequently artificially aged etc. to enhance the deception. ( In reality "copy"  "fake" and "restrike" are commonly used interchangeably and without distinction)  
  Fantasy A "made up" design, generally produced to deceive.  A design never produced or worn officially.  
  Field Service Cap A Folding cap with ear flaps (curtains); a modified version of the Glengarry: Also forage cap and side cap. See the Canadian variants displayed on the Service Publications website.
  Fire Gilt A specific form of gold plating where the gold is applied in a liquid amalgam with mercury, the mercury then being driven off with heat.
Describes the method of attaching the insignia in question to the wearing apparel.
Flat Topped Flat Topped Crown A version of crown used on some Victorian era badges. "Flat topped" is in fact a misnomer as the crown has a convex top. Flat topped 9th Lancers, K&K 763
picture required
  Fur Cap  
  Garter Common design component similar to a strap, where the definition becomes "Garter" only if it contains the actual motto of the Order of the Garter: Honi soit qui mal y pense. (literal translation : "Shame be to him who thinks evil of it" but often described as "Evil be to him who evil thinks" Household Cavalry badge with true Garter
  German Silver Obsolete term for white metal the fell into disuse early 1900's  
g/m, gm Gilding Metal Copper rich brass alloy, finished products generally being more red in colour as opposed to earlier yellow brass. Gilding metal, as the name suggests is ideally suited to gold and silver plating. Typical composition of gilding metal: 87% copper, 13% zinc. Gilding metal generally replaced yellow brass for British army insignia from 1896.  
  Gilt Gold plated. Applied with chemical solutions and/or electrolysis. Generally found on officers badges, often in combination with silver and silver plate. (also see fire gilt)  
  Glengarry Cap A peak-less elongate cap made of thick-milled wool with a bobble on top and a pair of ribbons attached to the back. Initially adopted by pipers in the mid Victorian era,  use then spreading to the Scottish regiments generally, and eventually to most of the army.
  Grenade Ancient military symbol incorporated into a large number of badges. Initially a back badge of a trained grenade man -a grenadier of the late 17th Century. The symbol is a spherical "lit" grenade with flames emanating from the top.    Royal Scots Fusiliers
  Hairpin slider A slider that has a secondary function of strengthening weak areas in the main badge design. This is accomplished by doubling over the slider "hairpin" fashion and using one side to reinforce or bridge a weak area. 
also see 19th Hussars
h.p. Helmet plate Generally refers to the larger headdress insignia suitable for the rigid helmets of various types popular in the Victorian and Edwardian periods (becoming solely "full dress" / ceremonial in the latter part of that period) Still in use today with some units as a full dress component.
h.p.c Helmet plate centre The distinctive circular detachable badge of the common late Victorian & Edwardian Universal Helmet plate series. Also worn on its own (but with small crown over) on the Glengarry cap, and fit with a long slider for use on the puggaree.
  Imperial Crown
see King's crown
KK,  K&K Kipling and King Head-Dress Badges of the British Army. Volume I; up to the end of the Great War.
Head-Dress Badges of the British Army. Volume II; from the end of the Great War to 1979 (recent edition includes additional chapter, 1978-1998)

The Standard Reference work on British head-dress badges, by Hugh King and Arthur Kipling.

see bibliography
Also known as the Pillbox or Pork-pie cap. A circular peak-less cap.
picture required
K.C., kc, k/c King's Crown The King's Crown (KC), also referred to as the Imperial Crown or Tudor Crown. An insignia device current with the reigns of Edward VII, George V, the uncrowned Edward VIII, and George VI: i.e. the period 1901-1953
L.& D. Linaker & Dine Cavalry Warrant Officers' and Non-Commissioned Officers' Arm Badges by David Linaker and Gordon Dine.

The standard reference work on cavalry arm badges, published by the Military Historical Society.

see bibliography
Looped Looped Crown The Indian crown with multiple side "loops", occasionally used on British insignia during the Victorian period. Example:7th Hussars pre 1901 cap badge K&K 759
picture required
  Loops Commonly one or more loops of copper or brass wire formed into a ring with a shank and brazed to the reverse of a badge. These pass through the apparel material and the badge is secured with a split pin that passes through the ring(s). Also referred to as lugs, rings or shanks. Flat loops refer to a fixing of similar function to the wire loop but instead are stamped out of flat sheet brass, these a particularly common on shoulder titles.  
Fixing, see Loops above
  Mazeas "Insignes Canadiens / Canadian Badges 1920 -1950 Caps Collars and Titles" by Daniel Mazas.

The most frequently quoted reference work on Canadian insignia of this period.

[also see our own online reference for this period]

see bibliography
  Mufti Term used in military circles to refer to civilian dress. A mufti badge is therefore one to be worn in civvi street, generally lapel badges or similar.  
n-s, & e-w North-south &
alternative description for the position of loops on a badge, rather than top and bottom or left and right.  
  Open back Button reference where the reverse, often concave surface of the button is exposed, as opposed to "close back" (see above)
OR's,  o.r's Other Ranks Used to refer to insignia as worn by the rank and file. Normally insignia in its most common version, as opposed to officers' which may be better quality, bronze or silver/gilt versions of other ranks' badges.  
  Pip Small rank badge worn by Commissioned officers on their shoulder or cuff. More accurately a "star" and is a representation of the Star of the Order of the Bath.
  Pith Helmet   pic
  Pin (& hook)  Fixing, see Broach  
  Plastic see economy  
  Puggaree Layered cloth binding worn around certain helmets and headdress. Often the mounting for insignia. (see slouch hat images below)  
PVCN Priced Vocabularies of Clothing and Necessaries Reference to the army's official inventory of clothing, valid 1907-1929.  see CVN and CCN  
  Printed Refers to cloth insignia with a printed design, as opposed to Embroidered
O.S.D. Officers' Service Dress    
Q.C Queen's Crown   The Original St Edward's Crown
Q.V.C Queen Victoria Crown The Victorian period concave top crown design in use 1837 - 1901. Important to note this pattern also predates the Victorian period.   
  Racoon Skin Cap    
Fixing, see Loops
  St. Edward's Crown
see Queen's crown
  Sand cast    
Scottish Scottish Crown    
  Sealed pattern    
Fixing, see Loops
  Side Cap
see Field Service Cap
s/p Silver plate A finish description: Silver plate, common on officers badges and occasionally Scottish non-commissioned officers and pipers insignia.  
s/g,   sil/gilt silver/gilt A finish description: silver and gold plating to metal badges almost exclusive to officers' full dress insignia.  
S/T Shoulder Title Insignia worn on the shoulder strap or upper sleeve,
both metal and cloth.
  Slider A  badge fixing in the form elongate tongue of brass, occasionally tapered, running closely parallel with the back of the badge.  
  Slouch Hat Wide-brimmed felt hat with a chinstrap, worn by most British and Colonial units at one time or another. Particularly notable for its use by the Australian forces generally, Irregular Cavalry units during the Anglo Boer War 1899-1902, and during the WW2 Burma and Far East Campaigns.
see voided
see Posts
see anodised aluminium
  Sweat holes Construction feature or artefact common on older bi-metal insignia. A "wicking" area for excess brazing material.  
  Tam O Shanter Circular bobble top and peak-less Scottish head-dress "bonnet", named after the character 'Tam o' Shanter' in the poem of that name by Robert Burns. Needless to say common at one time or another with Scottish Regiments and Colonial Regiments with a Scottish affiliation.  
Fixing, see Blades
  Tudor Crown
see King's crown
  Valise From the French "bag" or "suitcase", and refers to the soldiers back-pack or satchel: A 'Valise badge' hence being one designed to be worn on the back-pack. Began life in the 17th century as a painted "valise star" later becoming brass badges. Occasionally worn on other parts of the Valise equipment. see British Infantry Equipments by Mike Chappell
VCN Vocabulary of Clothing and Necessaries Reference to the army's official inventory of clothing, valid 1933-1949
  see CCN and PVCN
  Void, Voiding Refers to the fretted out areas of metal insignia, used with particular reference to voided and non-voided (solid) badge variants, either the whole design or part.  
  Westlake Collecting Metal Shoulder Titles by Ray Westlake

The standard reference text on British shoulder titles.
wm, w/m White  Metal Common alloy used in the manufacture of metal insignia - often referred to as "German Silver" pre WW1. Typical composition; 64.5% Copper, 16.5% Zinc, 19% Nickel. (Not to be confused with the industrial 'white metal' alloy of tin and lead used for castings and steel cable cappings )  

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