late 13c. (in Anglo-Latin), "messenger, envoy," from Anglo-Fr. heraud, from O.Fr. heraut, hiraut, perhaps from Frankish *hariwald "commander of an army," from P.Gmc. *kharjaz "army" (from PIE root *koro- "war") + *wald- "to command, rule" (see wield
). The form fits, but the
sense evolution is difficult to explain, unless in ref. to the chief officer of a tournament, who introduced knights and made decisions on rules. The verb is late 14c., from the noun. Heraldry "art of arms and armorial bearings" is first recorded late 14c., as heraldy, from O.Fr. hiraudie, from hiraut, originally "heralds collectively." The spelling with -r- is attested from 1570s (cf. poetry, pedantry).