SCA Glossary

GOOD GRIEF, What do they mean by that? 

If you've just joined the Society, you may find conversations and event announcements hard to follow at first. SCA participants, chapters and offices all assume names with a historical flavor, and there's a whole vocabulary for everyday things as well. You'll get used to it quickly, here are some of the most commonly used words to start with. 


Anachronism: anything out of its proper time.

Anno Societatis (abbreviated "A.S."): The dating system we use in the SCA (translates to "In the Year of the Society"). May 1, 1966 was the first day of the year A.S. I, and May 1st is "New Year's Day" for each Society year. The years are usually depicted in Roman numerals. 

Apprentice: a student in a formal relationship with a Master or Mistress of the Laurel. They wear green belts.

Armor Inspection: before combat begins at a Society event, experienced Marshals must check and approve all the armor and weapons to be used by every fighter.

Arms (or device): the heraldic emblem that identifies a person or entity. 

Arts and Sciences: crafts and skills of the Middle Ages/Renaissance which we research and practice in the SCA, also referred to as "A & S"

Authorization: the process that fighters and fencers go through to be allowed to participate in combat. 

Autocrat / Event Steward: the person in charge of an event. Sometimes you will see the suffix "-crat" added to other words to identify the person running the activity (e.g. Feastcrat, Merchantcrat). However, many people prefer to try to use real words from the Middle Ages. 

Award of Arms: a Society-wide award given by the Royalty. Recipients can use the title "Lord" or "Lady" before their names. 

Baron/Baroness: a title that carries at least an Award of Arms.  There are 2 varieties—Landed (sometimes called Territorial) and Court.  They wear coronets not to exceed 2" tall with the points adorned with pearls and are addressed as "Your Excellency".

Barony: a type of SCA local chapter.  Baronies are generally larger in size, and have a Baron and/or Baroness as their ceremonial heads. Sub-groups within a Barony's territory are known as Cantons, or in some areas, Ridings or Strongholds. All these groups are officially recognized in the SCA and are administered by a slate of officers. 

Bardic Circle: an informal gathering for singing and storytelling. Anyone who attends is welcome to perform appropriate material, but you can just sit and listen if you prefer. A bard is a person who sings, tells stories, recites poetry, etc. 

Blue Card: an SCA membership card printed on blue cardstock, indicating that the card holder has a signed waiver on file at the SCA offices. 

Board (abbreviated BoD): the Board of Directors of the SCA.

Boffer: a weapon made of foam to be used against an unarmored opponent.

Chancellor: the officer responsible for advising the Crown and Seneschal on matters of Kingdom and modern law.

Chatelain(e) / Hospitaller: an officer who helps new members learn about the SCA. 

Chivalry: (1) with a capital "C" refers to fighters recognized by the King and Queen for their great skill on the tourney field. Companions of the Chivalry are the Knights, who swear fealty to the Crown, and Masters-of-Arms, who do not.  They wear white belts and gold chains. (2) with a lower case "c" refers to the attitude and standard of behavior expected of all participants; it includes the virtues of courtesy, honesty, fairness and generosity. 

Chronicler: the editor of a Kingdom or group newsletter. 

Circlet: a metal band worn on the head that indicates rank.  Unadorned circlets that are 1" wide signify the wearer is a bestowed Peer—Knight, Pelican, Laurel. Unadorned circlets that are ½" wide signify that the wearer has earned the title of Honorable Lord or Lady, also known as a Grant of Awards.  Unadorned circlets that are ¼" wide signify the wearer has earned the title of Lord or Lady, also known as an Award of Arms.  These people are also allowed to bear arms (weapons) in the presence of the Royalty.

CLEAR!: word called to indicate that someone is about to draw a steel weapon, so passers-by should watch where they step.  Never draw steel without checking first to see that no one will be endangered.

Collegium / University: events where classes are taught on a variety of subjects.

Combat Archery: archery against human targets using special blunted arrows.  See the Marshal's Handbook for standards.

Corpora: the document that defines the structure of the Society's historical re-creation.

Coronation: the event where the Crown Prince and Princess, heirs to a Kingdom, are crowned. 

Count/Countess: a person who has been King or Queen once.  Addressed as "Your Excellency" and they wear a coronet of precious metal embattled, ornamented as they see fit and is 3" tall.

Court: a gathering where the King and Queen of a Kingdom make announcements and present awards. Rulers of Principalities hold Principality courts, and landed Barons and Baronesses hold Baronial courts. 

Crash Space:  informal lodgings with members of the group holding an event. 

Crown Tournament: the tournament held to determine the next heirs to the Kingdom. 

Dame: an alternate title used by female members of the Orders of Chivalry, the Laurel or the Pelican, who do not wish to use the title "Mistress" or "Sir". 

Demo: a demonstration of the activities in the SCA, participants will usually perform martial activities as well as arts and sciences for the public. 

Device: a heraldic emblem registered to a person or group that represents that person or group; no 2 are alike.

Dry/Damp/Wet Site: alcoholic beverage policies. Dry sites allow no alcohol. Damp sites permit wine, beer, and mead, but no hard liquor. Wet sites do not restrict alcohol. "Discreetly" damp or wet means that the site is normally dry, but the owners will permit alcohol as long as the labeled containers are kept out of sight and are removed at the end of the event. Of course, at any site, local laws regarding alcohol consumption must be followed. 

Duke/Duchess: a person who has been King or Queen at least twice.  They are addressed as "Your Grace" and wear coronets made of precious metal, embellished with strawberry leaves, ornamented as they see fit and are 4" tall.

Earl: an alternate title for Count.

Earl Marshal: Kingdom officer responsible for combat activities.

Event: any Society gathering. You're welcome to go to any that are listed in the newsletter. You can take part in the activities, although some (mainly martial arts) take special training, and you'll need to be "authorized" by a marshal before you can take part in those. 

Exchequer (Chancellor of the Exchequer): the officer serving as treasurer for a group or Kingdom. 

Farspeaker: slang sometimes used for "telephone". 

Favor: a personal token given to another, generally indicates there is an emotional commitment between the giver and receiver. Woe be to anyone who wears more than one!

Fealty: a relationship between individuals, marked by an exchange of oaths of service and protection.

Feast: an elaborate meal, usually served in the evening, sometimes accompanied by entertainment. 

Feast Gear: a place setting for a feast: at least a plate, bowl, goblet, spoon and knife. You can also include a napkin, fork, tablecloth, candles, etc. Assume you'll need to bring basic feast gear for any feast unless the announcement says you don't. 

Garb: clothing based on that worn in the Middle Ages or Renaissance. Required at all events except some local meetings and activities – but your first attempt doesn't have to be fancy! Many local groups have loaner garb – contact the Chatelain(e). 

Gate: the place to check in or buy at-the-door admission to an event. 

Gentle: any person, not gender-specific. 

Gold Key: a collection of loaner garb and gear for the use of newcomers, generally maintained by the Chatelain(e). 

Grant of Arms: an award carrying greater precedence than an Award of Arms, given at the pleasure of the Crown.

Heavy Weapons: combat done by armored fighters, with rattan versions of swords, polearms, and spears. 

Herald: officer who helps participants come up with SCA names and arms; or the official who makes announcements on the field, or is the Master of Ceremonies for court. Local group heralds are called Pursuivants. 

High Table: at a feast it is the table where the presiding nobility and honored guests are seated.

HOLD!: a cry meaning "Stop whatever you are doing and freeze in place until you see where the hazard is!" Normally used during combat, but it's been extended to cover all forms of activity. 

Household: a voluntary association of friends or people with a common interest. Can be organized under whatever rules the members jointly accept. Households have no formal standing in the SCA. 

Investiture: the event at which the new Prince and Princess of a Principality or the new Baron and Baroness of a Barony are installed. 

Jarl: alternate title for Count, originally Scandinavian.

King: Royalty, addressed as "Your Majesty" and wears a crown of precious metal ornamented as they see fit.

Knight: a member of the Chivalry who chose to swear fealty to the Crown.  They wear a white belt and are addressed as "Sir" or "Dame" if the Knight is a woman.

Laurel: someone recognized by the King and Queen for mastery of an art or science. 

Light Weapons: in some Kingdoms, refers to rapier combat (fencing). 

Lists / List Field: the roped-off area for combat, also called "the eric".  The List Table is the location where competitors sign in and where the Master or Mistress of Lists keeps track of the paperwork necessary to actually run the tournament. 

Lord/Lady: used as a title—with a capital "L"—indicates the person has an Award of Arms.

Marshal: a specially trained person who oversees combat activities for safety purposes. A Knight Marshal holds this office in a local group. The Earl Marshal holds this office in a Principality or Kingdom. 

Minister: the gender-neutral title for office names. 

Minister of Youth / Page School Chancellor: officer in charge of children's activities. 

Mistress/Master: title used by companions of the Orders of the Laurel and Pelican, and Masters-of-Arms. Also part of some office names, i.e., "Mistress of the Lists", "Master of Arts & Sciences". 

Melee:  martial combat with many participants on each side. 

Mundane: used to mean "non-SCA", "everyday", "in real life". We encourage the use of the word "modern" instead, as we're aware that "mundane" can sound insulting. 

Non-Member Surcharge: an additional $5 paid by event attendees who are not card-carrying members of the SCA. 

On-board: attending an event and eating the feast provided by the sponsors. The "on-board" price includes the site fee. (Assume you'll need to bring other meals unless the notice promises them.) 

Off-board: attending an event and bringing your own dinner. 

OYEZ! (OH-yay): an attention-getting call, usually preceding an announcement, which means to stop talking and listen. 

Page: a boy or girl who serves an older SCA member in exchange for training.

Peers: companions of the Chivalry, Laurel, and Pelican. 

Pelican: someone recognized by the King and Queen for great service to their Kingdom and the SCA. 

Period: of the time period studied in the SCA (the Middle Ages and Renaissance); also, authentic. 

Persona: the Middle Ages / Renaissance person that you are posing as. Your persona can be detailed or simple – starting with the time period and country you are from, all the way to knowing the details of your persona's place in society or your family history. 

Populace: the inhabitants of a kingdom or local group; the people present at an event. 

Porta-castle/Privy: portable chemical toilets found at outdoor events. 

Prince/Princess: the Heirs to the Throne.  Addressed as "Your Highness" and wear a crown of precious metal ornamented as they see fit.

Proof of SCA Membership: your membership card or of a recent Kingdom newsletter label . 

Protégé: a student in a formal relationship with a Master or Mistress of the Pelican. They wear yellow belts.

Queen: Royalty, addressed as "Your Majesty" and wears a crown of precious metal ornamented as they see fit.

Rattan: the stem of a climbing palm used for Heavy Weapons.

Reeve: alternate name for Exchequer.

Regnum: a listing of Society branches or a listing of officers. 

Removes: sometimes used as a synonym for "courses" at a feast. ("Remove" is actually a post-period term for a dish served during a course that is later removed and replaced by a new one.) 

Revel/Noble Fellowship: formal or informal gathering after the feast; can include dancing, a dessert table, bardic circle or just sitting around visiting with others.

Royal Peers: Viscounts, Viscountesses, Counts, Countesses, Dukes, and Duchesses. A Viscount or Viscountess has served as Prince or Princess of a Principality. A Count or Countess has served as King or Queen of a Kingdom once, and a Duke or Duchess has served more than once. 

Royal Presence:  the 10 foot area around the King, Queen, Prince, Princess or Thrones (whether or not they are occupied); it's considered proper to bow or curtsy when entering Their presence or passing them.  If you wish to talk, pause at the edge of the Presence until you are acknowledged and invited to approach.

SCA Name: the name someone uses in the Society. 

SCAdian (SKAY-dee-an): as a noun, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Also: SCAer. Used as an adjective to mean "of the SCA." 

Scribe: calligrapher, someone who writes the decorative scrolls used to commemorate SCA awards.

Seneschal: the officer serving as "president" of a local group or Kingdom. Acts as the group administrator and legal representative of the SCA. 

Shire: a type of SCA local chapter.  These are generally smaller than a Barony.

Site: the place the event is being held. 

Site Fee: the cost of admission to an event. Does not usually include the cost of the feast. 

Squire: a student in a formal relationship with a Knight or Master of Arms. They wear red belts and silver chains.

Steward: officer in charge of inventorying/maintaining/storing a SCA chapter's property. 

Token:  an item given to an individual to show that they are a member of a household, SCA group, Kingdom, etc.  There are also site and feast tokens given at some events to indicate that you have paid for the event and/or feast. 

Tournament/Tourney: a competition in SCA fighting or fencing. Some types of tournaments are: Pas d 'Arms, Bear pit, Double-Elimination, Round-Robin, and Ransom tourneys. 

Troll Booth: the place to check in or buy at-the-door admission to an event. Staffed by the "troll". See also "Gate". 

Twelfth Night: an event celebrating the holiday of Epiphany (January 6). It is scheduled at the beginning of January; attendees wear their finest garb, and friends exchange gifts. 

Viscount/Viscountess: a person who has been a Prince or Princess of a Principality, addressed as "Your Excellency" and wears a coronet of silver embattled, ornamented as they see fit and up to 3" tall.

Waiver: a release of liability form signed when you purchase SCA membership. A blue membership card indicates that you have a signed waiver on file with the SCA, Inc. Non-members and members with white membership cards must sign waivers at events and martial practices.

War: a gathering at which the main activity is one or more battles for large groups of participants, involving the use of fields, woodlands, or other broken terrain. War events can also include other martial activities, along with classes, Court, dancing, performances, and merchants. 

Warrant: a document indicating that a person holds a specific office; it may be an individual piece of paper or a list (roster) maintained by a higher officer.