Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Heraldry A panel bearing the coat of arms of a deceased person.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An escutcheon of a deceased person, placed within a black lozenge and hung on a wall

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sort of panel, upon which the arms of a deceased person are temporarily displayed, -- usually on the walls of his dwelling. It is lozenge-shaped or square, but is hung cornerwise. It is used in England as a means of giving public notification of the death of the deceased, his or her rank, whether married, widower, widow, etc. Called also achievement.
  • n. A sword or other mark of the profession of arms; in general, a mark of dignity.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In heraldry: An escutcheon or armorial shield granted in recognition of some distinguished achievement; an achievement (in sense 3).
  • n. Especially — A funeral achievement; a square tablet set diagonally and bearing the arms of a deceased person, placed over a tomb or upon the exterior of the house in which the person dwelt.
  • n. Hence Any distinguishing mark, badge of honor, symbol, or the like, as the sword of a soldier.

Etymologies

Alteration of hachement, achiment, from achievement, escutcheon.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The hatchment is painted with the arms of Lord and Lady Nelson (estimate: £ 30,000 - £ 35,000).

    A Home and Its Love Story

  • The most important item will be a painted silk armorial hatchment from his state funeral car.

    A Home and Its Love Story

  • The house so drearily out of repair, the occasional bow – window, the stuccoed house, the newly – fronted house, the corner house with nothing but angular rooms, the house with the blinds always down, the house with the hatchment always up, the house where the collector has called for one quarter of an Idea, and found nobody at home — who has not dined with these?

    Little Dorrit

  • Quartered in this dingy hatchment commemorative of

    Bleak House

  • Over the low-arched gateway which led into the yard there was a carved stone, exhibiting some attempt at armorial bearings; and above the inner entrance hung, and had hung, for many years, the mouldering hatchment, which announced that umquhile Laurence Dumbie of Dumbiedikes had been gathered to his fathers in Newbattle kirkyard.

    The Heart of Mid-Lothian

  • Having passed through Gaunt Square into Great Gaunt Street, the carriage at length stopped at a tall gloomy house between two other tall gloomy houses, each with a hatchment over the middle drawing-room window; as is the custom of houses in Great Gaunt

    Vanity Fair

  • A grand painted hatchment was already over the great entrance, and two very solemn and tall personages in black flung open each a leaf of the door as the carriage pulled up at the familiar steps.

    Vanity Fair

  • It was a feminine hatchment, and indeed a few years back had served as a funeral compliment to Sir

    Vanity Fair

  • Its period of service over, the hatchment had come down from the front of the house, and lived in retirement somewhere in the back premises of

    Vanity Fair

  • As he came back to Hatherly Court from the church, they were putting up the hatchment over the door, and Master Fred saw that the undertakers had put at the bottom “Resurgam”.

    Doctor Thorne

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