Glossary of SCA Terms
As you become more involved in the Society, you’ll hear words and phrases that sound strange and perhaps out of place. They are part of what adds to our cultural flavor in the SCA. Below is a listing of some of the more common words you’re likely to hear at a local meeting, or event.
Anachronism – a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.
Anno Societatis (A.S.) – The designation used to mark years passed since our inception in 1966. The SCA new year begins on May 1st.
Apprentice – Mentored by a Laurel in some field of the arts and sciences and will be seen wearing a green belt.
Arts and Sciences (A&S) – Any of the multitude of crafts and activities you can study and perform in the SCA, from animal husbandry, embroidery, and costuming to blacksmithing, cooking, performing arts, and many more.
Authorized – A term used specifically for the martial activities (armored or rapier combat, siege weapons) meaning someone who is both a paid member and has proven their ability to be safe in the performance of a particular martial activity by passing a basic skills test administered by a group of marshals. I.e., an authorized fighter.
Autocrat – The person(s) in charge of coordinating an SCA event. While the term “Autocrat” is still used, the preferred term now is “Event Steward.”
Award of Arms (AoA) – Awarded to a Society member (not necessarily a paid member) who has served their local group; called an “armigerous” award and confers the right to consider your device as “arms”. Also grants the title “Lord” or “Lady” for use before your SCA name. Followed by Grant of Arms (GoA) and Patent of Arms (PoA).
Barony – A larger group, often (but not always) encompassing a number of smaller, local groups within the Society. Headed by a Territorial Baron/Baroness.
Blazon – The heraldic method of verbally describing a device. The pictorial representation is called the “emblazon.”
Board of Directors (or BoD) – The group of publicly (from within the membership of the Society) nominated individuals who direct the non-profit organization of the SCA.
Canton – A local group that is part of a Barony, within the Society, whose officers report to their Baronial, Regional, and Kingdom level officers.
Chivalry, Order of the (or Chiv) – An awarded peerage that honors a Society member for his or her skill and dedication to combat and the martial arts. Awarded by consent of their peers and the Crown, its members are called either Knights or Masters / Mistresses-at-Arms.
Circlet – A band of metal worn at the forehead to indicate rank. In the Middle Kingdom, anyone who has been awarded an AoA may wear a full metal circlet to designate their rank as a Lord or Lady.
“Clear!” – Called by someone about to draw a steel weapon to alert others for safety.
Collegium – An event featuring several classes, sometimes centered on a theme, taught by and for Society participants.
Coronet – A smaller version of a crown worn at the forehead to indicate rank. The style and decoration of the coronet determines the rank of the bearer.
Court – A ceremony presided over by the royalty at an event; held to conduct business and confer awards and peerages.
Crown, The – The royalty presiding over a Kingdom or Principality.
Device – Often mundanely termed “coat of arms,” the personal symbol of a Society member, household, or group.
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 have agreed to permit us to use alcohol as long as the labelled containers are kept out of site and are removed from site at the end of the event. Violators of these alcohol policies will be removed from the site and denied re-entry to the event.
Event – A gathering of SCA members and guests, taking place over a single day, a weekend, or several days or weeks. Often includes a variety of activities, sometimes centered around a theme or common purpose, from the fields of combat to the Arts & Sciences.
Feast – A grand meal at an event featuring specially prepared period dishes; usually a very festive, community activity.
Feast Gear – A place setting for a feast: at least one plate, bowl, goblet, spoon and knife (per person). It can also include a napkin, fork, tablecloth, candles, salt cellar (shaker), etc. If a feast is being served, it’s fairly certain that you will need to bring your own feast gear.
Feast-o-crat – The person in charge of running the feast at an event. This entails not just setting the menu and cooking the food, but also the wrangling of servers and how the food is to be presented. The preferred term today is “Feast Steward.”
Garb – Recreations of clothing that would have been worn in period. Garb is differentiated from “costume” in that it recreates everyday clothing that would have been worn by a person of the period portrayed – not something worn on a stage.
Gentle – A general term for a person who participates in the SCA, i.e. the gentles of a shire.
Heavy (Combat) – recreation of martial combat including “heavy” weapons (swords, axes, spears, etc.), armor, and shields. May be done one-on-one, as a tournament, as a group battle, or even as a war. The preferred term is “Armored Combat.”
“Hold!” – Called to halt activity in the immediate area because of potential danger. If you hear this, become quiet immediately and wait for the hold to end. If you are in combat at the time, drop to one knee and wait.
Household – A voluntary association of Society members under a common activity or bond; has no official standing within the Society.
“Hoobah!” – Called as a cheer of celebration. Some kingdoms use the cheers “vivat” or “huzzah.”
Inter-Kingdom Anthropology – Often encountered on Facebook or email groups that span multiple Kingdoms. This is used to describe a custom, or term to describe a custom, that may be encountered in one Kingdom that is different from another Kingdom.
King / Queen – The current rulers of a given kingdom.
Kingdom – A regional distinction surrounding all the groups in a particular area with its own set of officers that direct the related individual groups’ officers, support its members and arrange large scale events. Our kingdom is called the Middle Kingdom or Midrealm.
Known World – Designates the collected area of the SCA and its Kingdoms and Principalities.
Laurel, Order of the – An awarded peerage that honors a Society member for his or her contribution and dedication to the study and recreation of the Arts and Sciences (often a specialized area within the Arts and Sciences). Awarded by consent of their peers and the Crown, its members are referred to as Masters or Mistresses of the Laurel or simply as “Laurels.”
Member (Sustaining, Associate, Family) – Specifically, a person who has paid a membership fee and is entitled to additional benefits with the SCA such as newsletters and holding office. Often used for non-paid members as well, just to add to the confusion.
Mundane – The term used to designate people, things, or activities in modern day life.
Officer – One of the individuals that administrates the activities of a group (local, kingdom, or even Society as a whole). A list of offices and their duties can be found on the Officers page.
Order – An award given to someone to acknowledge their hard work, research, craft, etc. Members of an order are called “Companions” of that order.
“Oyez!” – Pronounced “oi-yay” or “oh-yay” – Called to draw attention, as in to start an event or meeting.
Peerage (Awarded) – Knights, Laurels, and Pelicans; all awarded peerages honor the recipient’s dedication to their group and kingdom as well as their display of courtesy and chivalry while participating with the Society and their devotion to faithfully recreating our period.
Peerage (Royal) – Nobility who have earned their title by reigning as King or Queen at least once. A Count/Countess has reigned once. A Duke/Duchess has reigned twice or more.
Pelican, Order of the – An awarded peerage honoring a person who has devoted themselves to the service of their local group, their kingdom, and the Society at large. Awarded by consent of their peers and the Crown, its members are referred to as Masters or Mistresses of the Pelican or simply as “Pelicans.”
Period – Used to encompass the time span that the SCA recreates, generally considered pre-1600 (17th century). The term also designates those objects, activities, and concepts found within that time span and our attempts to reenact or replicate them (i.e. a “period pavilion” is one that matches a style found in the Middle Ages).
Persona – Who a member is while participating in SCA activities; based on the peoples of our period. May be as complex as an entire life story, or may simply be a time and place to go with the name and style of dress.
Polling Order – An award whose recipients are recommended to the Crown by those who have already received it. The current polling orders are: Chivalry, Laurel, Pelican, and Master of Defense.
Precedence (Order of Precedence) – The order in which certain awards represent a higher level of achievement and service (i.e. a King is higher than a Baron, a Baron is higher than a Lord, etc.). This varies from kingdom to kingdom.
Prince and Princess – In a kingdom, the male and female heirs to the throne. They will eventually become King and Queen.
Principality – A regional distinction within a kingdom ruled by its own Prince and Princess that may eventually move up to kingdom status.
Protégé – Mentored by a Pelican in the art of service and will be seen wearing a yellow belt.
Rapier (Combat) – Combat using what is mundanely called “fencing” techniques, weapons, and gear.
Rattan – A plant, the bamboo-like stem of which is used to make weapons for armored combat. Swords and other such weapons may be colloquially referred to as rattan.
Regnum – A listing of the officers for a particular group, kingdom, or the entire society.
Reverence – Showing deference to the royalty, by bowing or curtsying when passing into, through, or in front of the Royal Presence.
Royal Presence – The area surrounding and immediately in front of the royalty and their thrones.
SCAdian – Referring to someone who is a member (paid membership or not) of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA).
SCA (Society) Name – The name a Society member chooses to use to represent their persona. Generally the name is accurate to period naming conventions for their chosen time and place.
Shire – A local group, often independent of a Barony within the Society, whose officers report to their Regional, and Kingdom level officers.
Site – The location where an event is held.
Site Fee – The cost of admission to an event, usually stated in the coin of the modern country where the event is being held.
Squire – Mentored by a Knight in the field of combat and will be seen wearing a red belt.
Title – A special designation used before your Society name, such as “Lord,” “Mistress,” “Baron,” or “Sir,” granted by certain awards.
Waterbearer – A gentle who supplies water, beverages, and snacks to the fighters and populace and watches for signs of heat exhaustion at events.