• synonyms


  1. a fur much used for lining and trimming garments in the 13th and 14th centuries, generally assumed to have been that of a variety of squirrel with a gray back and white belly.Compare miniver(def 1).
  2. Heraldry. a fur represented by a pattern of escutcheon- or bell-shaped figures, each outlining the adjacent sides of those beside it so that the figures alternate vertically and horizontally both in position and in tinctures, of which argent and azure are common.
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Origin of vair

1250–1300; Middle English < Old French < Latin varium something particolored; see various
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for vair

Historical Examples

  • Bartsch interprets the name as vair fils, 'parti-coloured son.'

    Parzival (vol. 1 of 2)

    Wolfram von Eschenback

  • Potent is like Vair, but the skins are differently shaped, like thick T's.

  • His son reverted to the plain shield of vair, or, and gules.

    A Complete Guide to Heraldry

    Arthur Charles Fox-Davies

  • The connection with vair is much clearer in the latter than in the former.

    A Complete Guide to Heraldry

    Arthur Charles Fox-Davies

  • Whether the slipper were of verre or of vair is a matter of no moment.

    Popular Tales

    Charles Perrault

British Dictionary definitions for vair


  1. a fur, probably Russian squirrel, used to trim robes in the Middle Ages
  2. one of the two principal furs used on heraldic shields, conventionally represented by white and blue skins in alternate linesCompare ermine (def. 3)
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Word Origin

C13: from Old French: of more than one colour, from Latin varius variegated, various
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

Word Origin and History for vair


"squirrel fur," c.1300, from Old French vair, from Latin varium, masculine accusative singular of varius "parti-colored" (see vary).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper