See also: Shield


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  • IPA(key): /ʃiːld/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -iːld

Etymology 1


From Middle English scheld, shelde, from Old English scield (shield), from Proto-West Germanic *skeldu, from Proto-Germanic *skelduz (shield), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kelH- (cut, split). Cognate with West Frisian skyld, Dutch schild (shield), German Schild (shield), Danish skjold (shield), Icelandic skjöldur (shield) and Faroese skjøldur (shield).

Compare Latin scūtum (shield), Irish sciath (shield), Latgalian škīda (shield), Lithuanian skydas (shield), Russian щит (ščit, shield), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kewH- (to cover, protect), *skey- (to cut, split).



shield (plural shields)

Shield, handheld defensive armour
  1. Anything that protects or defends; defense; shelter; protection.
    1. A broad piece of defensive armor, held in hand, formerly in general use in war, for the protection of the body.
      • 1599, William Shakespeare, Henry V, act III, scene II, line 8:
        Knock go and come; God's vassals drop and die; And sword and shield, In bloody field, Doth win immortal fame.
      • 1786, Francis Grose, A Treatise on Ancient Armour and Weapons, page 22:
        The shields used by our Norman ancestors were the triangular or heater shield, the target or buckler, the roundel or rondache, and the pavais, pavache, or tallevas.
      • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter VIII, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., →OCLC:
        My client welcomed the judge […] and they disappeared together into the Ethiopian card-room, which was filled with the assegais and exclamation point shields Mr. Cooke had had made at the sawmill at Beaverton.
    2. (figurative) One who protects or defends.
      • 1611, The Holy Bible, King James Version edition, Genesis 15:1:
        Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
      • 1592, William Shakespeare, Richard III, act 4, scene 3, line 56:
        Go muster men. My counsel is my shield; We must be brief when traitors brave the field.
    3. (lichenology) In lichens, a hardened cup or disk surrounded by a rim and containing the fructification, or asci.
    4. (mining, tunnelling) A framework used to protect workmen in making an adit under ground, and capable of being pushed along as excavation progresses.
      • 2012, Andrew Martin, Underground Overground: A passenger's history of the Tube, Profile Books, →ISBN, page 88:
        The earth was excavated from the sunken cylinder; the shield was inserted into it, and the tunnelling began, the target being Wapping, on the opposite bank. The shield was an iron honeycomb containing thirty-six cells within which men dug the wall of mud before them.
    5. (science fiction) A field of energy that protects or defends.
      • 2008, BioWare, Mass Effect, Redwood City: Electronic Arts, →ISBN, →OCLC, PC, scene: Kinetic Barriers ("Shields") Codex entry:
        Kinetic barriers, colloquially called "shields", provide protection against most mass accelerator weapons. Whether on a starship or a soldier's suit of armor, the basic principle remains the same.
        Kinetic barriers are repulsive mass effect fields projected from tiny emitters. These shields safely deflect small objects traveling at rapid velocities. This affords protection from bullets and other dangerous projectiles, but still allows the user to sit down without knocking away their chair.
  2. A shape like that of a shield; usually, an inverted triangle with sides that curve inward to form a pointed bottom, commonly used for police identifications and company logos.
    1. (heraldry) The escutcheon or field on which are placed the bearings in coats of arms.
      • 2012 October 8, Daniel W. Patterson, The True Image: Gravestone Art and the Culture of Scotch Irish Settlers in the Pennsylvania and Carolina Backcountry[1], UNC Press Books, →ISBN, page 141:
        The second and third quarters of the shield are indecipherable on the stone but clearer in two other representations of the arms, a painted wooden funeral hatchment for Mary Davie []
    2. (Scotland, euphemistic, obsolete) A toilet seat.
    3. A spot resembling, or having the form of a shield.
    4. (obsolete) A coin, the old French crown, or écu, having on one side the figure of a shield.
    5. (transport) A sign or symbol, usually containing numbers and sometimes letters, identifying a highway route.
    6. (colloquial, law enforcement) A police badge.
  3. (geology) A large expanse of exposed stable Precambrian rock.
    1. (geology) A wide and relatively low-profiled volcano, usually composed entirely of lava flows.
  4. (figuratively, Scotland, euphemistic, obsolete) A place with a toilet seat: an outhouse; a lavatory.
  5. (automotive, British English) Parts at the front and back of a vehicle which are meant to absorb the impact of a collision
Derived terms
some may also be hyponyms (unsorted)

Etymology 2


From Middle English shelden, from Old English scildan.



shield (third-person singular simple present shields, present participle shielding, simple past and past participle shielded)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To protect, to defend.
    Sunscreen shields against the harmful effects of solar rays.
    • 2004, Chris Wallace, “Character: Profiles in Presidential Courage”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      Shots rang out and a 15-year-old boy, shielding a woman from the line of fire, was killed.
  2. (UK, intransitive) To shelter; to protect oneself.
    • 2020 May 31, “Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19”, in GOV.UK[2]:
      The government has updated its guidance for people who are shielding taking into account that COVID-19 disease levels have decreased over the last few weeks.
  3. (electricity) To protect from the influence of. (Can we add an example for this sense?)
Derived terms