The term "escutcheon" also refers to the shield-like shape on which arms are often borne. The escutcheon shape is based on the Medieval shields that were used by knights in combat. Since this shape has been regarded as a war-like device appropriate to men only, ladies customarily bear their arms upon a lozenge, or diamond-shape, while clergymen bear theirs on a cartouche, or oval.
Derived from its meaning in heraldry, the term "escutcheon" can be used to represent a family and its honour. A family member who does something shameful can be described as a "blot on the escutcheon."