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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Just about any lawyer would advise bosses to fess up about a gun-toting supervisor.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Fess \Fess\, Fesse \Fesse\, n. [OF. fesse, faisse, F. fasce, fr. L. fascia band. See Fascia.] (Her.) A band drawn horizontally across the center of an escutcheon, and containing in breadth the third part of it; one of the nine honorable ordinaries.

Fess point (Her.), the exact center of the escutcheon. See Escutcheon.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

shortened form of confess, attested by 1840, American English. With up (adv.) from 1930. Related: Fessed; fesses; fessing.


wide horizontal band across an escutcheon, late 15c., from Old French faisce, from Latin fascia "a band" (see fasces).


Etymology 1 vb. To confess; to admit. Etymology 2

alt. (context heraldiccharge English) A horizontal band across the middle of the shield. n. (context heraldiccharge English) A horizontal band across the middle of the shield.


n. (heraldry) an ordinary consisting of a broad horizontal band across a shield [syn: fesse]


In heraldry, a fess or fesse (from Middle English fesse, from Old French, from Latin fascia, "band") is a charge on a coat of arms that takes the form of a band running horizontally across the centre of the shield. Writers disagree in how much of the shield's surface is to be covered by a fess or other ordinary, ranging from one-fifth to one-third. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry states that earlier writers including Leigh, Holme, and Guillim favour one-third, while later writers such as Edmondson favour one-fifth "on the grounds that a bend, pale, or chevron occupying one-third of the field makes the coat look clumsy and disagreeable." A fess is likely to be shown narrower if it is uncharged, that is, if it does not have other charges placed on it, and/or if it is to be shown with charges above and below it; and shown wider if charged. The fess or bar, termed fasce in French heraldry, should not be confused with fasces.

Fess (disambiguation)

A fess is a heraldic charge.

Fess or FESS may also refer to:


  • Simeon D. Fess (1861-1936), American politician and educator, Congressman and Senator from Ohio
  • Fess Parker (1924-2010), American actor
  • Professor Longhair (1918-1980), blues singer and pianist also known as "Fess"
  • nickname of Charlie Johnson (bandleader) (1891-1959), American jazz bandleader and pianist
  • Fess Williams (1894-1975), American jazz musician

Other uses:

  • Functional endoscopic sinus surgery
  • Fess Hotel, Madison, Wisconsin, on the National Register of Historic Places
  • Fess Ferenc, a fictional character from Brian Lumley's Necroscope (series) novels

Usage examples of "fess".

Firelight flickered on their faces, Fess, and, across from him, the family tent, which had grown steadily over the years until it had become a pavilion.

Rod had mentioned to Fess that keeping a watch might be a good idea, and the Steel Sentry had taken up his post, right next to the children.

Quarreling ranked high on their list, though, with fighting right behind it, so Fess was watching for more than ghosts.

It still rankled that Lona had only started leaving Fess with Dar after she had made herself a new guidance computer that did even better piloting than Fess had.

He stepped back, then remembered what tripping and falling might do to a pressure suit and turned away, stalking off fifty meters before he turned back to take in the whole of the shelter he and Fess were building.

Lona had started leaving Fess home, Dar had assigned him that little chore.

Ruthven yanked his arms out of the pressure suit, relying on Fess to catch the sleeves in time, and pulled his feet out of the legs as he stepped forward.

He and Fess had managed to distract the children, quite successfully, from their current, rather grim, surroundings.

He dropped the duffel, ripped off his coat and tossed it to Fess, followed by his frilled front.

Rod took the sheet back, handed Fess the rest of the stack, and started tucking.

The knights descended on Fess shouting, englobing him in seconds, a melee of flailing swords and ghostly battle axes.

The miniature transceiver built into the sides of the sheath probed the grass with sonics to analyze its molecular structure, then broadcast the data to Fess, who determined if any of the molecules were incompatible with human metabolism.

If the grass had been poisonous to Rod, Fess would have beamed a signal back to the sheath, whereupon the white metal would have turned purple.

Rod was riding Fess back to the inn, bent on picking up a little gossip and a lot of beer.

Rod took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and looked back over his shoulder to make sure Fess was still standing there, by the fountain, head lowered in a good imitation of a horse grazing.