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fleur-de-lis

[flur-dl-ee, -ees, floo r-; French flœr-duh-lees] /ˌflɜr dlˈi, -ˈis, ˌflʊər-; French flœr dəˈlis/
noun, plural fleurs-de-lis
[flur-dl-eez, floo r-; French flœr-duh-lees] /ˌflɜr dlˈiz, ˌflʊər-; French flœr dəˈlis/ (Show IPA)
1.
a heraldic device somewhat resembling three petals or floral segments of an iris tied by an encircling band.
2.
the heraldic bearing of the royal family of France.
3.
the iris flower or plant.
Also, fleur-de-lys (for defs 1, 2).
Origin
1300-1350
1300-50; < French; replacing Middle English flourdelis < Anglo-French flour de lis, literally, lily flower
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Word Origin and History for fleurs-de-lis
fleur-de-lis
also fleur de lis, mid-14c., from O.Fr., lit. "flower of the lily," especially borne as a heraldic device on the royal arms of France. Perhaps originally representing an iris, or the head of a scepter, or a weapon of some sort.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for fleurs-de-lis

fleur-de-lis

stylized emblem or device much used in ornamentation and, particularly, in heraldry, long associated with the French crown. One legend identifies it as the lily given at his baptism to Clovis, king of the Franks (466-511), by the Virgin Mary. The lily was said to have sprung from the tears shed by Eve as she left Eden. From antiquity it has been the symbol of purity and was readily adopted by the Roman Catholic church to associate the sanctity of Mary with events of special significance. Thus, when Pope Leo III in 800 crowned Charlemagne as emperor, he is reported to have presented him with a blue banner covered (seme) with golden fleurs-de-lis.

Learn more about fleur-de-lis with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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