• synonyms


  1. British Dialect. a house martin.
  2. Heraldry. a representation of a swallow close and without legs, used especially as the cadency mark of a fourth son.
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Origin of martlet

1530–40; < Middle French martelet, variant of martinet; see martin, -et
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for martlet

Historical Examples

  • Martlet and I both feel that we must have the north-west tower.

    The Young Castellan

    George Manville Fenn

  • Most heraldry books state also that the martlet has no beak.

    A Complete Guide to Heraldry

    Arthur Charles Fox-Davies

  • The Swallow, as distinct from the martlet, is sometimes met with.

    A Complete Guide to Heraldry

    Arthur Charles Fox-Davies

  • The Martlet is practically always represented in profile, at rest, and with its wings closed.

  • Some writers confound it with the martlet, stating that the alerion is the same bird with its wings displayed or extended.

British Dictionary definitions for martlet


  1. an archaic name for a martin
  2. heraldry a footless bird often found in coats of arms, standing for either a martin or a swallow
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Word Origin

C16: from French martelet, variant of martinet, diminutive of martin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012