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Alphabetically Arranged with Cyclopedic Meanings and Bible References


The Masonic system exhibits a stupendous and beautiful fabric founded on universal piety.  To rule and direct our passion, to have faith and hope in God, and charity towards man, I consider as the objects of what is termed Speculative Masonry.  1 Tim. 5:4  Mark 11:22  Psalms 146:5


The obverse or reverse surface of a badge, coin or medallion.


An exact copy or reproduction.  A synonymous term is replica.

Faith - trust, reliance

In the theological ladder, the explanation of which forms a part of the ritual of the First Degree in Masonry, faith, is said to typify the lowest round.  Faith, here, is synonymous with confidence or trust, and hence we find merely a repetition of the lesson which had been previously taught that the first, the essential qualification of a candidate for initiation, is that he should trust in God.  In the lecture of the same degree, it is said that "Faith may be lost in sight; Hope ends in fruition; but Charity extends beyond the grave, through the boundless realms of eternity."  And this is said, because as faith is "the evidence of things not seen," when we see we no longer believe by faith but through demonstration; and as hope lives only in the expectation of possession, it ceases to exist when the object once hoped for is at length enjoyed, but charity, exercised on earth in acts of mutual kindness and forbearance, is still found in the world to come.  EXAMPLE  Heb. 11:6 -  Rom. 10:9,10 -  Acts 15:8,9

Faithfulness - steadfast; sincere

It is required of all Masons that they be steadfast in keeping the vows of the Order, that they be sincere in the practice of all the virtues taught by the ritual, symbols, and lectures of the various Degrees, and that they maintain unflinching loyalty to the Fraternity.  A faithful servant is one who keeps his vows, who is diligent in his stewardship, dutiful to his master, and loyal in the face of trial and temptation... Eccl. 5:4,5 -  Deut. 7:9 -  1 Kings 8:56 -  Matt. 25:14-23 -  Luke 12:42-44


A reproduction is a copy of an original, properly marked with the maker's name, or the current proper hallmarks.  It is up to the buyer to check the marks.  These may become fakes when the marks are rubbed and distorted and the vendor attempts to pass an item off as being of earlier vintage. Reproductions abound, some with copies of the original marks, or lacking any marks at all.  Fakes in silver are designed to resemble old style artifacts, but have not been copied from an original.  Enameled fakes are usually done using an original, and either re-enameling the original enamel cavity, or enameling a perfectly good side of a plain object.  In either case, the original hallmarks remain intact and the result convincing.  A few good articles have been published that are very helpful, but mostly it is a matter of experience and Buyer Beware.

Fatherhood of God

Masonry teaches that man is the offspring of God by creation, that God made mankind of one blood, and that God's fatherly love for man finds its greatest expression in his redemptive plan for fallen humanity... Gen. 1:26-28 -  Gen. 2:7 -  Psalms 103:13 -  2 Cor. 1:3 -  Heb. 12:9

Fears Shall Be In The Way

Refers to old age, childishness, nervous and easily excited.  Eccles. 12:5 


The convocation of the Craft together at an annual feast, for the laudable purpose of promoting social feelings, and cementing the bonds of brotherly love by the interchange of courtesies, is a time-honored custom, which is unfortunately growing into disuse.  The Assembly and Feast are words constantly co-joined in the Book of Constitutions.  At this meeting, no business of any kind, except the installation of officers, was transacted, and the day was passed in innocent festivity.  The election of officers always took place at a previous meeting, in obedience to a regulation adopted by the Grand Lodge of England, in 1720, as follows: "It was agreed, in order to avoid disputes on the annual feast-day, that the new Grand Master for the future shall be named and proposed to the Grand Lodge some time before the feast"  (See Constitutions, 1738, page 111).  Biblical examples of social feasts and festivities... Matt. 9:9,10 -  John 12:1,2


Feeling is that sense by which we are enabled to distinguish the different qualities of bodies, such as hardness and softness, heat and cold, roughness and smoothness, figure, solidity, motion, and extension, all of which, by means of corresponding sensations of touch, are presented to the mind as real external qualities, and the conception or belief of them invariably connected with these corresponding sensations by an original principle of nature, which far transcends our inquiry.

Fellow Craft

The Second Degree of Freemasonry in all the Rites is that of the Fellow Craft.  In the French it is called Compagno; in Spanish, Compañero; in Italian, Compagno; and in German, Gesell; in all of which the radical meaning of the word is a fellow workman, thus showing the origin of the title from an operative institution.  Like the Degree of Apprentice, it is only preparatory in the higher initiation of the Master; and yet it differs essentially from it in its symbolism.  For, as the First Degree was typical of youth, the Second is supposed to represent the stage of manhood, and hence the acquisition of science is made its prominent characteristic.  While the former is directed in all its symbols and allegorical ceremonies to the purification of the heart, the latter is intended by its lessons to train the reasoning faculties and improve the intellectual powers.  Before the eighteenth century, the great Body of the Fraternity consisted of Fellow Crafts, who are designated in all the old manuscripts as Fellows.  The Biblical significance of fellow and fellowship to be practiced by Masons... Eph. 2:19 -  Col. 4:11 -  1 John 1:7

Female Masons

Although the landmarks of Speculative Masonry peremptorily exclude women from having conferred upon them the mysteries of the Order, there are now jurisdictions which regularly initiate women to the sublime degree of a Master Mason and beyond.  Click here for a description of these Orders.

Fern ware

Made at Mauchline, Scotland, by William Smith between 1872 and ca. 1920. Originally the fern leaves were pinned to a box and painted over with a dark color; the pins were removed, the holes filled, and the fern markings painted in; the box was then lacquered with a lighter color.


Fervency as a Masonic virtue is emphasized in the lecture of the First Degree; it is symbolized by charcoal because all metals may be dissolved by the ignited charcoal.  Subsequently fervor and zeal are symbolized by the color scarlet, the appropriate tincture of Royal Arch Masonry.  Biblical emphasis upon fervor and zeal in adherence to truth and in works of beneficence... Gal. 4:18 - Titus 2:14 -  Isa. 59:17

Festivals of St. John

What are the dates of the Festival of St. John?  The 24th of June is consecrated to St. John the Baptist, and the 27th of December to St. John the Evangelist.  It is the duty of Masons to assemble on these days, and by solemn invocation of the past, renew the ties and strengthen the fraternal bonds that bind the present to the brotherhood of the olden time.  Luke 1:57  Matt. 4:21


A Latin motto frequently written Sit Lux et Lux Fuit, referring to Genesis 1:3, "Let there be light, and there was light.  Often seen on early English Sunderland Lustre Ware.  EXAMPLE


In the instruction of the First Degree, it is said that "our ancient Brethren worshipped deity under the name of Fides or Fidelity, which was sometimes represented by two right hands joined, and sometimes by two human figures holding each other by the right hands."   The deity here referred to was the goddess Fides, to whom Numa first erected temples, and whose priests were covered by a white veil as a symbol of purity which should characterize Fidelity.  No victims were slain on her altars, and no offerings made to her except flowers, wine, and incense.  Her statues were represented clothed in white mantles, with a key in her hand and a dog at her feet.  The virtue of Fidelity is, however, frequently symbolized in ancient medals by a heart in an open hand, but more usually by two right hands clasped.   EXAMPLE  "FIDES" is often (and wrongly) translated 'faith.' For the Romans,
FIDES was an essential element in the character of a man of public affairs, and a necessary constituent element of all social and political transactions (perhaps = 'good faith' or 'fidelity'). FIDES meant 'reliability', a sense of trust between two parties if a relationship between them was to exist. FIDES was always reciprocal and mutual, and implied both privileges and responsibilities on both sides. In both public and private life the violation of FIDES was
considered a serious matter, with both legal and religious consequences. FIDES, in fact, was one of the first of the 'virtues' to be considered an actual divinity at Rome.



The flat surface of a badge, coin or medallion surrounding and between the bust, inscription, and other parts of the raised design.

Field Lodge

A Lodge duly instituted under proper authority from a grand body of competent jurisdiction, and authorized to exercise during its peripatetic existence all the powers and privileges that it might possess if permanently located.  Charters of this nature, as the name implies, are intended for the tented field, and have been of the greatest service to humanity in its trying hours, when the worst of passions are appealed to.


A term used to describe fancy type artifacts in many forms that represent some form of object, animal or part thereof, human or part thereof, marine creature, bird, insect, vegetable form, or everyday object.  Often called "Novelties" (but the same term has also been applied in the contemporary literature to other forms of antiques), or "Figural" which is a term in geometry and misused here. 


Fine gold or silver wire used to make delicate patterns resembling lace.  EXAMPLE

Fine silver

Better than 999/1000 pure. It is too soft for practical fabrication; used mainly in the form of anodes or sheets for plating.

First Landmark

What is the first Landmark of Masonry?  The modes of recognition are, of all the landmarks, the most legitimate and unquestioned.  They admit no variation; and if they have suffered alteration or addition, the evil of such a violation of the ancient law has always made itself subsequently manifest.  The fact that they can never be changed.  Duet. 19:14

First Master Craftsman

Who was the first Master Craftsman?  It is recorded in Genesis that Tubalcain was the first Master Craftsman.  Gen. 4:22


Among the Pythagoreans five was a mystical number, because it was formed by the union of the first even number and the first odd, rejecting unity; hence it symbolized the mixed conditions of order and disorder, happiness and misfortune, life and death.  The same union of the odd and even or male and female, numbers made it the symbol of marriage.  Among the Greeks it was a symbol of the world, because says Diodorus, it represents ether and the four elements.  It was a sacred and round number among the Hebrews.  In Egypt, India, and other oriental nations says Gesenius, the five minor planets and the five elementary powers were accounted sacred.  It was the pentas of the Gnostics and the Hermetic Philosophers; it was a symbol of their quintessence, the fifth or highest essence of power in a natural body.  In Freemasonry, five is a sacred number, inferior only in importance to three and seven.  It is especially significant in the Fellowcraft Degree, where five are required to hold a Lodge, and where, in the winding stairs, the five steps are referred to the orders of architecture and the human senses.  In the Third Degree we find the reference to the five points of fellowship and their symbol, the five-pointed star.  Geometry, too, which is deemed synonymous with Freemasonry, is called the fifth science; and, in fact, throughout nearly all the Degrees of Freemasonry, we find abundant allusions to five as a sacred and mystical number.

Five-Pointed Star

The five-pointed star, which is not to be confounded with the blazing star, is not found among the old symbols of Masonry; indeed, some writers have denied that it is a Masonic emblem at all.  It is undoubtedly of recent origin, and was probably introduced by Jeremy Cross, who placed it among the plates in the emblems of the Third Degree prefixed to his Hieroglyphic Chart.  It is not mentioned in the ritual or the lecture of the Third Degree, but the Masons of this country have, by tacit consent, referred to it as a symbol of the Five Points of Fellowship.  The outlines of the five-pointed star are the same as those of the pentalpha of Pythagoras, which was the symbol of health.  M. Jormard, in his Description de l'Egypte (tom. viii., p. 423), says that the star engraved on Eqyptian monuments, where it is a very common hieroglyphic, has constantly five points, never more or less.

Five Senses

The five senses of Hearing, Seeing, Feeling, Tasting, and Smelling, are introduced into the lecture of the Fellowcraft as a part of the instructions of that Degree.  As these senses are the avenues by which the mind receives its perceptions of things exterior to it, and thus becomes the storehouse of ideas, they are most appropriately referred to that Degree of Freemasonry whose professed object is the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge.

Flaming Sword

A sword whose blade is of a spiral or twisted form is called by the heralds a flaming sword, from its resemblance to the ascending curvature of a flame of fire.  Until very recently, this was the form of the Tiler's sword.  Carelessness or ignorance has now in many Lodges substituted for it a common sword of any form.  The flaming sword of the Tiler refers to the flaming sword which guarded the entrance to Paradise, as described in Genesis 3:24:  "So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."  It is more commonly seen now as a symbol in the emblem of the Scottish Rite where the flaming sword is held in the talons of the double-headed eagle.


This is the jewelers mark for the city of Verdun, France.  The term means "flower of light."  The fleur-de-lis is the French symbol of life and power, and is designed from nature's Iris.  This symbol is found on many Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Nouveau pieces and has been carried out in modern designs as well.  It is also symbolic of the Virgin Mary.  The origin of the fleur-de-lis is obscure, although it can be traced as far back as ancient Egypt.  Among the sources that have been suggested for its design are the lily flower, bee, frog, and male genitalia.  A synonymous term is Bourbon lily.

Flight to Joppa

This phrase refers to the flight of Jonah in his effort to escape a responsible assignment made by God.  It is employed with very striking significance in the Masonic Ritual.  Jonah's effort to flee to Joppa can be found in Jonah 1:1-16


The floor of a properly constructed Lodge-room should be covered with alternate squares of black and white, to represent the Mosaic pavement which was the ground floor of King Solomon's Temple.


A framework of board or canvas, on which the emblems of any particular Degree are inscribed, for the assistance of the Master in giving a lecture.  It is so called because formerly it was the custom to inscribe these designs on the floor of the Lodge-room in chalk, which were wiped out when the Lodge was clothed.  It is the same as the Carpet, or Tracing-BoardEXAMPLE


The Corner-stoneTo level the Footstone means to lay the Corner-stone.  Thus, Dr. George Oliver says "Solomon was enabled to level the footstone of the Temple in the fourth year of his reign."

Fords of the Jordan

At one of the fords of the Jordan at a point where the river is about 80 feet wide and where approaches to the water's edge are hedged in with almost impassable dense growths on the banks there was a great slaughter of Ephraimites who sought to flee just apprehension for their revolt against the national hero Gideon.  They were detected by their inability to pronounce the word Shibboleth.  This incident is significantly referred to in the Fellow-Craft Degree.  For a Biblical record of the incident see...  Judges 12:1-7

Foreign Country

Thousands have heard this expression, without dreaming if its hidden and spiritual meaning, or if they think of any meaning at all, they content themselves by interpreting it as referring to the actual travels of Masons after the completion of the temple, into the surrounding country in search of employment, whose wages were to be gold and silver which they could earn by the exercise of their skill in the operative art.  But the true symbolic meaning of the foreign country into which the Master Mason is to travel is far different.  The symbolism of this life terminates with the Master's degree.  The completion of that degree is a lesson of death and the resurrection to a future life.  Heaven, the higher state of existence after death is the Foreign Country, where the true word, or divine truth, not given in this, is to be received, and where the Master Mason is to enter, and there he is to receive his wages in the reception of that truth which can be imparted only in that better land.  2 Cor. 5:1

Foreign silver

Other than English sterling, is sometimes of uncertain silver content, in some instances running considerably below the coin standard.  The fineness is often stamped on the article.  In the Scandinavian countries and Germany solid silver tableware 830/1000 fine has been standardized and the stamp "830" signifies this silver content. 


The shaping of metal by heating and hammering.


In Freemasonry, an official act is said to be done, according to the rank of the person who does it, either in ample form, in due form, or simply in form.  Thus, when the Grand Lodge is opened by the Grand Master in person, it is said to be opened in ample form; when by the Deputy Grand Master, it is said to be in due form; when by any other qualified officer, it is said to be in form.  The legality of the act is the same whether it be done in form or in ample form; and the expression refers only to the dignity of the officer by whom the act is performed.  The terms Ample and Due Form appear to have been introduced by Anderson in the 1738 edition of the Constitutions (page 110).

Form of the Lodge

The form of a Freemason's Lodge is said to be an oblong square, having the greatest length from east to west, and thus its greatest breadth from north to south.  This oblong form of the Lodge, has, as Brother Mackey thought, a symbolic illusion that has not been averted to by any other writer.  If, on a map of the world, we draw lines which shall circumscribe just that portion which was known and inhabited at the time of the building of Solomon's Temple, these lines, running a short distance north and south of the Mediterranean Sea, and extending from Spain to Asia Minor, will form an oblong square, whose greatest length will be from east to west, and whose greatest breadth will be from north to south.  There is a peculiar fitness in this theory, which is really only making the Masonic Lodge a symbol of the world.  It must be remembered that, at the era of the Temple, the earth was supposed to have the form of a parallelogram, or oblong square.


This is one of the four cardinal virtues whose excellencies are dilated on in the First Degree.  Certain ceremonies based upon the Three Hebrews in the fiery furnace and upon Daniel in the lions' den emphasize the truth that genuine fortitude cannot be shaken by dangers nor dissolved by suffering, and finds its greatest manifestation in refusal to "deny the faith" under the severest persecutions and trials.  By fortitude, Masons are taught to resist temptation, and encounter danger with spirit and resolution.  This virtue is equally distant from rashness and cowardice; and he who posses it is seldom shaken, and never overthrown, by the storms that surround him.  EXAMPLE  Incidents in the Bible on which ceremonies teaching the duty of genuine fortitude are based... Dan. 3:1-30 -  Dan. 6:1-28

Forty-Seventh Problem of Euclid

The "Forty-Seventh Problem of Euclid's" first book of Geometry contained a mathematical theorem so complex that when Pythagoras solved the problem he exclaimed; "Eureka" which signifies "I have found it"!   It has been adopted as a symbol of a Past Master.  It teaches Masons to be general lovers of the arts and sciences.  See ARTICLE


The ballot-box is said to be foul when, in a ballot for the initiation or advancement of a candidate, one or more black balls (cubes) are found in it.


The operative masons engaged in the building of King Solomon's Temple laid deep and solid the foundations of that notable structure; so strong were these foundations that in utter destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, the foundation stones remained intact.  Hence, Speculative Masonry stresses the necessity for a firm and solid foundation in the building of character.   Luke 21:5 -  Eph. 2:20 -  2 Tim. 2:19 -  1 Kings 5:7,8


Latin, meaning Brother.  An expression borrowed from the monks by the Military Orders of the Middle Ages, and applied by the members to the Masonic Knights Templar, and is beginning to be adopted, although not as generally, in the United States.  When speaking of two or more, it is an error to call them Fraters.  The correct plural is Fratres.


Doctor Mackey records the usual mode of subscription to letters in his day written by one Freemason to another as, "I remain, fraternally, yours," custom and preference that continues to be frequently adopted.


The word was originally used to designate those associations formed in the Roman Catholic Church for the pursuit of special religious and ecclesiastical purposes, such as nursing of the sick, the support of the poor, and the practice of the particular devotions, etc.  They do not date earlier than the thirteenth century.  The name was subsequently applied to secular associations, such as the Freemasons.  The word is only a Latin form of the Anglo-Saxon Brotherhood.  


Q.  What does the word Free signify, when connected to Freemasonry? 

A.  Not bound, not in captivity,  The word "Free" in connection with "Mason" originally signified that the persons so called were free of the company of Guild or incorporated Masons.  During the middle ages the craftsman that were trained in the Roman Colleges of Artificers were serfs, bondsmen, and were declared free to travel throughout Europe, building cathedrals, monasteries, and other religious buildings.  The Masons who were selected to build the Temple of Solomon were declared free, and were exempted, together with their descendants, from imports, duties and taxes.  They had also the privilege to bear arms.  At the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzer, the posterity of these Masons were carried into captivity with the ancient Jews.  But the good-will of Cyrus gave them permission to erect a second temple, having set them at liberty for that purpose.  It is from this epoch that we bear the name Free and Accepted Masons.  Ezra 2:1

Freedom, Fervency, and Zeal

The earliest lectures in the eighteenth century designated freedom, fervency, and zeal as the qualities which should distinguish the servitude of Apprentices, and the same symbolism is found in the ritual of the present day.  The word freedom is not here to be taken in the modern sense of liberty, but rather in its primitive Anglo-Saxon meaning of frankness, generosity, a generous willingness to work or perform one's duty.


One who has been initiated into the mysteries of the Fraternity of Freemasonry.


Masonry, according to the general acceptation of the term, is an art founded on the principles of geometry, and directed to the service and convenience of mankind.  But Freemasonry, embracing a wider range and having a nobler object in view, namely, the cultivation and improvement of the human mind, may with propriety be called a science, inasmuch as availing itself of the terms of the former, it inculcates the principles of the purest morality, though its lessons are for the most part veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols.  The definitions of Freemasonry have been numerous, and they all unite in declaring it to be a system of morality, by the practice of which its members may advance their spiritual interest, and mount by the theological ladder, from the lodge on earth to the Lodge in heaven.  Subjoined are a few of the most important definitions:

"Freemasonry is a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols." -- Hemming

"The grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race."  -- George Washington

"Masonry is an art, useful and extensive, which comprehends within its circle every branch of useful knowledge and learning, and stamps an indelible mark of pre-eminence on its genuine professors, which neither chance, power, nor fortune can bestow." -- Preston

"There are Great Truths at the foundation of Freemasonry -- truths which it is its mission to teach, and which constitute the very essence of that sublime system which gives to the venerable institution its peculiar identity as a science of morality, and it behooves every disciple diligently to ponder and inwardly digest." -- Albert Pike

Free-Will and Accord

There is one peculiar feature in the Masonic Institution that must command it to the respect of every generous mind.  In other associations it is considered meritorious in a member to exert his influence in obtaining applications for admission; but it is wholly uncongenial with the spirit of our Order to persuade any one to become a Mason.  Whosoever seeks a knowledge of our mystic rites must first be prepared for the ordeal in his heart; he must not only be endowed with the necessary moral qualifications which would fit him for admission into out ranks, but he must come, too, uninfluenced by friends and unbiased by unworthy motives.  This is a settled landmark of the Order; and, therefore, nothing can be more painful to a true Mason than to see this landmark violated by young and heedless brethren.


German for FreemasonMauer means a wall, and mauern, to build a wall.  Hence, literally, freimaurer is a builder of walls, who is free of his gild, from the fact that the building of walls was the first occupations of masons.

French ivory

See Celluloid.

Furniture of the Lodge

Every well-regulated Lodge is furnished with the Holy Bible, the Square, and the Compasses.  These constitute the furniture of the Lodge, being the three Great Lights of Masonry.  The first is designed to be the guide of our faith; the second to regulate our actions; and the third to keep us within proper bounds with all mankind.


An ancient symbol well known in the science of coats of arms and the other details of heraldry.  It is sometimes known as the cruz dissimulata, found in the catacombs of Rome, and forms one of the symbols of the Degrees of Prince of Mercy, Scottish Rite system.  It is a form of the Swastika (See Jaina CrossEXAMPLE


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