As you know, Latin language has several terms for what we call "shield", namely clipeus, scutum, parma, pelta etc. I'm just wondering which among them is the most "neutral" or "common" word that referring "shields", or is there perhaps a blanket term for them?

I am looking for a Classical word (if any) for "a hand-carried armor designed for battle", or metaphoric usage of it that translates English "shield" such as in "Religious Liberty Is a Shield and Not a Sword". I'm also interested in knowing if Latin since the Classical period would use the same word or a different one, because I have little knowledge about it.


Clipeus was originally a round, metal shield. It is fairly common.

Scutum was originally a long, oval wooden shield with iron fittings and covered with leather, used by soldiers. It is also used for a shield in general. It is about as common as clipeus.

Both words were also used metaphorically for a defence or protection in general.

  • 3
    Tutamen would also be suitable — as a blanket term as requested, perhaps even better. – Tom Cotton Jun 26 '17 at 8:47

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