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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English shelde, from Old English scield(shield), 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).

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


shield (plural shields)

  1. Anything that protects or defends; defense; shelter; protection.
    1. A broad piece of defensive armor, carried on the arm, formerly in general use in war, for the protection of the body.
      • 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.
      • 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.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 8, in The Celebrity:
        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. (figuratively) 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.
    3. (lichenology) In lichens, a hardened cup or disk surrounded by a rim and containing the fructification, or asci.
    4. (mining) A framework used to protect workmen in making an adit under ground, and capable of being pushed along as excavation progresses.
    5. (science fiction) A field of energy that protects or defends.
  2. Something shaped like a shield, usually an inverted triangle with slightly curved lower sides.
    1. (heraldry) The escutcheon or field on which are placed the bearings in coats of arms.
    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.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Old English scieldan.


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

  1. To protect, to defend.
    • 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. (electricity) to protect from the influence of