Jargon Busters!

Starting with the SCA can be like learning a new language

Forms of address

One of the pleasures of the Society is using names and forms of address different from our everyday lives. Suddenly you’re a lord or lady, and so are the folks across the feast table from you. How cool is that?

Some titles emerge from members’ awards and accomplishments. So if you’re new to the Society, and wondering what to call people?

You’ll never go wrong with being polite. If you don’t know someone’s exact title, a polite ‘my lord’ or ‘my lady’ is fine. If you want to learn a persons’s preferred title, the simplest way is to ask.

A gentle guide to some terms

Most hobbies and occupations have specialist terms, that have specific meanings within the group, but remain utterly baffling to ‘outsiders’. The SCA is no different. This list focuses on those terms that turn up mainly in Insulae Draconis: other jargon lists are available.

Some qualifiers

  • Society - terms that are familiar across the Society
  • Drachenwald - terms common in this kingdom
  • Insulae Draconis - local cool stuff
  • Archery - terms about archery
  • Combat - terms related to the martial arts, particularly armoured combat and fencing
  • Heraldry - terms about the stylised decorative arts, and the ceremonies, of the medieval period
  • Slang - fun terms for explaining modern conveniences
A&S (Society) Short for Arts & Sciences, aka Making Medieval Stuff. Society members sometimes host afternoons or weekends devoted to making stuff.
Academy of Defense (Drachenwald) The kingdom-wide guild for teaching and promoting the noble art of defense (fencing).
Armour room At an event site, a room for storing equipment for fencing, heavy armoured combat, and archery. A dedicated space keeps equipment out of the bedrooms and dining areas at an event.
Armoured Combat (Society) Full-contact fighting in protective body armour, using weapons made of rattan. Rattan is a fibrous wood, sometimes used for furniture making. In finished weapons it makes a sword which has a similar weight to a steel sword. Crown and Coronet tourneys are decided by individual armoured combat.
Authorisation (Combat) A verbal and practical test that participants must pass to take part in armoured combat and fencing. Think of it as a driving test for combat. Marshals (the safety officers for these activities) also must pass authorisations. Sometimes shortened to ‘auths’.
Autocrat (Society, slang) Also: Event Steward. The person in charge of running an event.
Award (Society) A recognition given to someone, by royalty, for contribution and excellence in the Society. A new award sometimes comes with a title.
Banishment (Society) The act of banning a person from SCA activity for gross misconduct. Very rare.
Banners (Heraldry) Decorative artwork featuring personal or group armory, to hang in a hall or announce one’s presence.
Bardic Arts (Society) Singing, composing and reciting poetry, and theatrical performances in a period style.
Bardic Circle A set time or area for sharing songs, stories and plays.
Bard-in-a-Box (Slang) Nickname for a stereo or music player.
Belt (Society) Some peers give their household members coloured belts to indicate membership. By Society convention, squires wear red belts, proteges wear yellow belts, apprentices wear green belts. There is, at this writing, no hard convention for dependents of Masters of Defense. Yes, they look like traffic lights. We know.
Blazon (Heraldry) A formal verbal description of a heraldic device. A herald who ‘speaks’ blazon can draw the arms described, without ever having seen a picture of the original.
Bransle Pronounced same way as ‘brawl’. A 16th century dance. When invited to ‘brawl’ always check the meaning…
Bunk (Drachenwald) A bed at an event, to distinguish from ‘crash space’. Usually a bunk bed or similar, and typically requires booking in advance. In Drachenwald, events are often over a weekend, where staying at the site in shared accommodation is part of the fun. Event info should tell you how much bedding you need to bring with you.
C&I (Society) Short for Calligraphy and Illumination: the art of writing with pen and ink, based on medieval examples, and the painted artwork that accompanies the words. Sometimes pronounced ‘SeeEnnAye’. Also: scribes, scriveners, scribing.
Captain of Archers An officer responsible for promoting and reporting on archery within an SCA group.
Celestial Highness, Celestial Magnificences (Insulae Draconis) The traditional style of the Prince and Princess of Insulae Draconis.
Chatelaine (Society) An officer responsible for welcoming and assisting new people and supporting recruitment in their group.
College (Society) An SCA group within a college, university, or other Third Level school. The College of Kings Lake is one such group.
Consort (Society) One half of the couple entering a Crown or Coronet Tourney: the person whose honour and good name the combatant fights for.
Coronet (Society) The ruling royal couple of a Principality, who earn this position by winning an armoured combat tournament. Within the Society, ‘Coronet’ is distinct from ‘Crown’ (the royal couple who lead a kingdom). This distinction tends to spread to describing what they wear on their heads: queens wear crowns, princesses (and royal peers) wear coronets.
Corpora (Society) The laws of the SCA, Inc. Corpora defines the ‘business side’ of running this international non-profit organisation.
Court (Society) A formal gathering called by Royalty at an event. A time for announcements, awards, ceremonies and thank-yous.
Crash space (Society) A bring-your-own-bed sleeping area, distinct from a bunk: air matresses, camp beds, sleeping bags, etc.
Crown (Society) The ruling royal couple of a Kingdom, who earn this position by winning an armoured combat tournament. By extension, the cool jewelry they wear on their heads.
Crown Prince and Princess (Society) The next King and Queen of a Kingdom of the SCA; the people who won the most recent Crown tournament, but who have not yet been crowned. Address as ‘Your Royal Highnesses’.
Cut-and-Thrust Fencing (Society) Full-contact combat with steel weapons. Has different equipment and authorisation standards from either fencing or armoured combat.
Dancing (Society) Social dancing with music and choreography from late 14th century onwards (earlier dances existed but noone wrote down how to do them!). Think Romeo and Juliet, or A Knight’s Tale.
Day trip, day tripping Attending an event in the daytime only, usually on Saturday of a weekend event. Fees for daytrip attendance are sometimes different from full attendance. Events can sometimes accommodate day visitors even if the acommodations are full.
Demo(Demonstration) (Society, Slang) A gathering at a convention or festival to show off our activities and attract new members.
Device (Heraldry) The artwork part of armory.
Discreetly Wet (Slang) If an event site is listed as ‘Discreetly Wet’, then alcohol is permitted, in your own containers (pour drinks into medieval cups and pots rather than drink from the bottle), on condition we tidy up after ourselves.
Dry (Slang) If an event site is listed as ‘Dry’, no alcohol is permitted at the event site at all. No messin’.
Event Steward The person in charge of running an event. Also called an Autocrat.
Event Token A small souvenir for attending an event.
Exchequer (Society) Treasurer of a group of the SCA.
Favour (Society) An item given to one’s consort, lover, or friend, to show regard or bring them luck.
Feast Gear (Society, slang) Your own table setting for sitting at feast, the main meal of an event, which you bring with you. If you are new to the game, assembling your table setting is probably a long-term project. Until you can sort platters and cups you like, aim for ‘not obviously modern’ tableware, cup and cutlery, a plain tablecloth and napkins. Bringing your own tea towel is a blessing!
Feastocrat (Slang) The cook; person in charge of the kitchen at an event.
Field Archery (Archery) Shooting at targets in varied places, usually featuring challenging distances or positions. Bring extra arrows.
Games of Chance and Skill Card and board games from period times, such as chess or Maw. (Suspiciously like gambling…)
Garb (Society, Slang) Clothes in medieval and renaissance style, that we wear at events. One of the very few requirements for attending a Society event is that you make ‘an attempt at pre-17th century clothing’.
Herald (Society) An officer who makes announcements, speaks on behalf of royalty in a Court, and conducts ceremonies. Can also refer to someone who helps design and register medieval names and armory.
‘Hold!’ (Society) Means ‘Stop moving, something dangerous is going on’. Called mainly in combat settings, but sometimes places like kitchens. It’s an important word to teach kids new to the Society.
Illumination (Society) The art of painting, particularly modelled on illuminated manuscripts that survive from before 1600.
‘Lay On’ (Society) Expression called by the marshal, to start a combat bout. Combatants are forbidden from hitting each other before the bout starts.
List Field (Society) The area for fighting a tournament, typically marked off by fence or rope. At events, combat warmup and tournaments is limited to designated areas; no sparring in random locations.
Loaner Garb (Slang) Clothing available to lend to newcomers, who don’t yet have their own.
Marshal (Society) A person who is authorised to check equipment, act as a safety officer, and organise tournaments and practice sessions for the combat arts.
Marshal-in-Charge (Society) At an event, the person who runs the martial activities, and submits a report on it once the event is over. Many people are marshals, but every event must designate Someone to Submit the Paperwork(tm).
Membership (Society) Paid membership to the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc, or its local affiliate SCA CIC UK. By long tradition, you need not be a member to attend events and take part in almost all the fun stuff. You must join up to become an officer in a group, or to enter Crown or Coronet tournament.
Minister of Arts and Sciences (Society) An officer responsible for promoting and reporting on A&S activity within a group of the SCA.
Minstrel A person who performs instrumental music.
M’lord/M’lady A courteous address to anyone you don’t yet know at an event, suitable whether someone has any Society awards or not.
Mundane (Slang) Related to your real, everyday life.
Newbie (Slang) Newcomers to the Society. Also Novices.
Nordmark, Principality of A Principality in Drachenwald which covers Sweden; includes members in Norway and Denmark. In Insulae Draconis, considered our fond older brother.
Off-hand (Combat) Your non-dominant hand. Authorisation in combat can include fighting off-handed.
Oyez (Heraldry) Pronounced ‘Oh-yay’, a call to pay attention to an announcement or procession.
Peerage (Society) High honours given by the Crown, recognised across the Society.
Pennsic war (Society) The largest SCA event in the Knowne World, occurs annually at a campsite in Pennsylvania, USA, July/August.
Persona (Society) Your ‘medieval self’: a character of sorts that you create within the SCA, your persona can provide a framework of a time, place, culture, social class and gasp profession. Many people choose to use a different name, but how much research you invest into your persona is up to you.
Raglan, ffair Rhaglan (Insulae Draconis) A 10-day all-camping event held at Raglan Castle, Monmouthshire, Wales, in August.
Reservations Steward (Drachenwald) The ‘gatekeeper’, the person in charge of taking bookings for events. Some folks call them the ‘troll’.
SCA Name The period/persona name you choose. What we should call you at events.
Scribe A person who does calligraphy and/or illumination.
Scriptorium An event (or room at an event) dedicated to Calligraphy and Illumination.
Seneschal (Society) The president of a group of the SCA: shire, barony, principality or kingdom.
Shire A local branch of the SCA.
Site fee The money you pay to attend an event. This usually covers all food and accommodation costs.
Sottelty, Soteltie Pronounced the same way as ‘subtlety’: an elaborate dessert item that resembles a non-food or non-dessert item, usually made from marzipan, sugar, cake, biscuit, etc. Medieval Cake Boss…
Steward of the Hall A person in charge of decorating and setting up the feast hall, and sometimes responsible for arranging serving staff for feast. Handy person to know!
Thrown Weapons (Society) Throwing axes and/or knives at targets.
Toasts (Society) At feast, we toast our Royals and Lands. Sometimes there are additional toasts, if the event or occasion calls for it. Toasts are led by someone of high rank, or are organised by a herald.
Tournament, tourney (Society) A competition in a martial activity.
University (Drachenwald, Insulae Draconis) An annual event of classes and workshops.
Wet If an event is listed as ‘Wet’, alcohol is permitted on site. You still must tidy up after yourself!