from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A broad piece of armor made of rigid material and strapped to the arm or carried in the hand for protection against hurled or thrusted weapons.
  • noun A person or thing that provides protection.
  • noun A protective device or structure, as.
  • noun A steel sheet attached to an artillery piece to protect gunners from small-arms fire and shrapnel.
  • noun Physics A wall or housing of concrete or lead built around a nuclear reactor to prevent the escape of radiation.
  • noun Electronics A structure or arrangement of metal plates or mesh designed to protect a piece of electronic equipment from electrostatic or magnetic interference.
  • noun A pad worn, as at the armpits, to protect a garment from perspiration.
  • noun A sanitary napkin.
  • noun Zoology A protective plate or similar hard outer covering; a scute or scutellum.
  • noun Something that resembles a shield, as.
  • noun An escutcheon.
  • noun A decorative emblem that often serves to identify an organization or a government.
  • noun A police officer's badge.
  • noun Geology The ancient, stable, interior layer of continents composed of primarily Precambrian igneous or metamorphic rocks.
  • intransitive verb To protect from being attacked, exposed to danger, or subjected to difficulty: synonym: defend.
  • intransitive verb To cover up; conceal.
  • intransitive verb To act or serve as a shield or safeguard.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To protect, defend, or shelter from danger, calamity, distress, annoyance, or the like: as, to shield one from attack; to shield one from the sun; to shield a criminal.
  • To ward off.
  • To forfend; forbid; avert.
  • To act or serve as a shield; be a shelter or protection.
  • noun A guard placed over or in front of rapidly moving machinery, especially over cutters such as saws and planes, to protect the workmen from accidents.
  • noun A guard placed around belting where it passes through a floor, or around gears to prevent clothing of workmen or passers-by from becoming entangled
  • noun A covering over bearings and shafts of grinding machinery to keep grit and dust from working into the contact-surfaces.
  • noun A guard placed on an exposed shaft, and turning loosely with it, to prevent injury from accidental contact with the revolving mass.
  • A frame or rounded plate made of wood, metal, hide, or leather, carried by warriors on the arm or in the hand, as a defense, from remote antiquity until the perfection of firearms rendered it more an encumbrance than a safeguard, and by savage peoples to the present day.
  • Anything that protects or is used as a protection.
  • A fender-plate attached to the share of a corn-plow to prevent clods from rolling on to the young plants.
  • In zoology:
  • A protective or defensive plate, buckler, or cuirass, of some determinate size, shape, or position; a scute, scutum, or scutellum; a lorica; a carapace: as, the shields or bucklers of a ganoid fish; the shields of a turtle, an armadillo, etc. See cuts under carapace, leaf-roller, scale, armadillo, and coluber.
  • Some part, place, or mark likened to a shield; a thyroid formation. See cut under larynx.
  • In dressmaking, a piece or strip of some repellent fabric used to protect a dress from mud, perspiration, etc.: as, a skirt-shield; an arm-shield.
  • Figuratively, a shelter, protection, or defense; a bulwark.
  • In botany, any flat, buckler-like body that is fixed by a stalk or pedicel from some part of the under surface, as the apothecium in certain lichens. (See apothecium.)
  • In heraldry:
  • The shield-shaped escutcheon used for all displays of arms, except when borne by women and sometimes by clergymen. See escutcheon and lozenge.
  • A bearing representing a knightly shield.
  • A French crown (in French, écu), so called from its having on one side the figure of a shield.
  • The semi-transparent skin of the sides of a boar-pig, which is of considerable thickness, affording shield-like protection against the attacks of an adversary: apparently used formerly to furnish a shield for burlesque or mimic contests.
  • A breed of domestic pigeons, of which there are four varieties, black, red, blue, and silver.
  • More properly, a mantlet or wooden bulwark for crossbowmen and the like.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To cover with, or as with, a shield; to cover from danger; to defend; to protect from assault or injury.
  • transitive verb To ward off; to keep off or out.
  • transitive verb obsolete To avert, as a misfortune; hence, as a supplicatory exclamation, forbid!
  • noun A broad piece of defensive armor, carried on the arm, -- formerly in general use in war, for the protection of the body. See buckler.
  • noun Anything which protects or defends; defense; shelter; protection.
  • noun Figuratively, one who protects or defends.
  • noun (Bot.) In lichens, a Hardened cup or disk surrounded by a rim and containing the fructification, or asci.
  • noun (Her.) The escutcheon or field on which are placed the bearings in coats of arms. Cf. Lozenge. See Illust. of Escutcheon.


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

[Middle English sheld, from Old English scield; see skel- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English scieldan.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English shelde, from Old English scield ("shield"), from Proto-Germanic *skelduz (“shield”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)keit-, *(s)keid-, *kheit- (“shield, cover”). Cognate with Dutch schild ("shield"), German Schild ("shield"), Danish skjold ("shield"), Icelandic skjöldur ("shield"), Latin scūtum ("shield"), Irish sciath ("shield"), Latgalian škīda ("shield"), Lithuanian skydas ("shield").


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  • Shields have been made of various materials, as metal, wood, wickerwork covered with skins or leather, etc. The form has varied greatly in different periods and countries; the principal types are (1) the circular shield, usually convex in front, with a boss in the center; (2) the oblong shield, either flat, or, more commonly, having the form of a portion of a cylinder; and (3) the shield with curved sides tapering to a point at the lower end, which was the prevailing form in Europe during the Middle Ages.

    In the Middle Ages the ‘armorial bearings’ of a knight were depicted on his shield, and decorated shields, made for display and not for warlike use, were often hung on walls in churches or other buildings as a memorial of a knight or noble. In heraldry, syn. with escutcheon.

    Citation: Oxford English Dictionary online edition.

    February 5, 2007

  • "7. In dressmaking, a piece or strip of some repellent fabric used to protect a dress from mud, perspiration, etc.: as, a skirt-shield; an arm-shield."

    --Century Dictionary

    February 16, 2011

  • Same root as shelter.

    March 14, 2024