Dictionary copyright 1999 PM John T. Mathews






ABIF: Meaning is “his father”.


ADONAI: The lord.


ADVANCE: Going from one degree to the next after showing proficiency in the preceding degree.


ADVERSE BALLOT:  In case the ballot on a petition for the degrees or for affiliation is adverse, the Master may, if he so desires, spread the ballot again to make certain no error occurred. In so doing, he should state his reason for the second spreading. The ballot shall not be spread a third time.


A.E.A.O.N.M.S - Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles Mystic Shrine


AGREEABLY: In conformity with.


ALLEGORICAL: An allegory is a story told through symbols, or an idea so expressed.


ALLEGORY: Analogy or comparison; a story told to illustrate a principle. It comes from the Greek meaning "to say something different."


ALL SEEING-EYE: An emblem reminding us that we are constantly in God's presence.


ALPHA and OMEGA: First and last Greek letters of the alphabet. The beginning and the end of all things; the first and the last, often mentioned in the Scriptures and in several of the Masonic degrees.


AMEN: From the Hebrew meaning "verily, truly, certainly." One person confirms the words of another. Masonically, answered by "So mote it be."


ANCIENT: Old, time honored.


ANNO BENEFACIO: (A.B.) Latin for "In the Year of the Blessing." Used by the Order of High Priesthood for dating their documents. (1930 added to the current date.)


ANNO DEPOSITIONIS: (A.Dep.) Latin for "In the Year of the Deposit. "The Cryptic Masonic date designation. (Add 1000 to the current date.)


ANNO DOMINI: (A.D.) Latin for "Year of our Lord."


ANNO INVENTIONIS: (A.I.) Latin meaning "In the Year of Discovery." The Royal Arch date designation. (Add 530 to the current date.)


ANNO LUCIS: (A.L.) Latin mean­ing "In the Year of Light, "the date used by Ancient Craft Masonry. (Add 4000 to the current date.)


ANNO MUNDI: (A.M.) Latin meaning "In the Year of the World." The date used by the Scottish Rite. (Add 3760 to the current year until Septem­ber; if after September, add 3761.


ANNO ORDINIS: (A.0.) L thin meaning "In the Year of e Order." The date used by the Knights Templar. (Sul)tract 1118 from the current date.)


ANOINT: To apply oil to, or pour oil on, particularly holy oil as a sign of elevation to kingship or consecration to priesthood. Hence, "anointed," one accepted by the Lord, as "The Lord's anointed." . Comes from the custom of the Egyptians and Jews.


     APPRENTICE: Comes from the Latin word apprehendre meaning "to grasp, to master a thing." Hence, a learner.


APRON:  The badge of a Mason. Originally among priesthoods as a badge of office and a means of ornamentation. The Masonic apron should be white lambskin, fourteen inches wide and twelve inches deep. It should be presented to the candidate at his initiation and not at some subsequent time. No substitute should be used. From the French word napron meaning "an apron of cloth." From earliest times in Persia, Egypt, India, the Jewish Essenes, the white apron was a badge of honor and candidates were invested with it, or a sash, or a robe. Its reference is to purity of heart, to innocence of conduct.


ARCHITECT: One who designs buildings.


ARCHITECTURE: The art or science of building.


ARCHIVES: a place for the safe keeping of records ; the records themselves.


ARTIFICER: a craftsman or skilled laborer.


ARTS: branches of learning, as in the lecture of the F.C. degree. In E.A. degree: skills.


ASHLAR: a block of stone from which a column, capital, or other finished product is carved or hewn.


ASHLAR: A stone as taken from the quarry; an unpolished stone.


ATHEIST: One who does not believe in God.




BEEHIVE: Symbolic of systematized industry. What one may not be able to accomplish alone may be easily performed when all work together at one task.


BLAZING STAR: Symbol of light; of Divine direction in the journey through life; symbolizes a true Freemason who, by perfecting himself in the way of truth (knowledge), becomes like a blazing star. In English lodges, symbolizes sun which enlightens the earth, dispensing its blessings to all mankind and giving light and life to all things.


BLUE LODGE. A term which has grown into use over the years meaning the three degrees of the lodge, or Symbolic Masonry. In the early years, Master Masons wore blue lined aprons. Blue is symbolic of perfection, benevolence, truth, universal friendship, fidelity.


BOAZ: Comes from the Hebrew meaning "in strength." The left hand pillar that stood at the porch of King Solomon's Temple.


BOOK OF CONSTITUTIONS: An emblem of law signifying that our moral and spiritual character is grounded in law and order and that no man can live a satisfying life who lives lawlessly.


BOOK OF CONSTITUTIONS GUARDED BY THE TYLER’S SWORD: An admonishment to the Mason that he should be guarded in his words and actions; obedience to the law.


BOOK OF THE LAW: The sacred book which reveals the will of God. To Christians, the Bible; to the Brahman, the Vedas, etc.


BRETHREN: The term is used in speaking of Masons, and in this connection is preferable to "brothers."


BROKEN COLUMN: Columns or pillars were used among the early Hebrews to signify nobles or princes; it is from such that we get the expression "pillar of the church." Masonically, the broken column refers to the fall of one of the chief supporters of the Craft; an untimely death.




CLANDESTINE: not regular.


CABLE TOW: The tie by which the candidate is bound to his brethren; the length of a Mason's cable tow is the scope of his ability to go to the relief of a brother in need. In early years the distance was three miles; in present time it is usually considered about forty miles.


CALENDAR, MASONIC: Masons date their official documents in a manner peculiar to themselves. The various dates for the different bodies are based on important points in history.


CANOPY: a tent-like covering. "Canopy of heaven", the sky.


CARDINAL POINTS: East: Wisdom; West: Strength; South: Beauty; North: Darkness.


CARDINAL VIRTUES: Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and justice are virtues of morality as laid down by Plato. Cardinal comes from the Latin cardo meaning "chief or fundamental."


CATECHISM: Instructions of Freemasonry.


CEDARS: Members of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon, a non-Masonic organization composed of Freemasons.


CELESTIAL CANOPY: Symbolic covering of the lodge; heavenly.


CEMENT: Brotherly love binds Freemasons of all coun­tries, races and creeds in one common brotherhood.


CHECKERED FLOOR: The Mosaic Pavement.


CHRISTIAN VIRTUES: Faith, Hope, and Charity.


CHALK, CHARCOAL, AND CLAY: Freedom, fervency, and zeal.


CHAPITERS:  the ornamental tops or capitals of pillars.


CHARTER: a document setting forth a set of granted rights and privileges given by the Grand Lodge to the constituent Lodge at the tinic of Constitution.  The Master is its custodian, and must see to its security at all times.  The charter must be in the Lodge room during all communications of the Lodge, preferably in the Master's charge, but it may be on the Secretary's desk, or in the archives of the Lodge. It should not be framed to hang on the wall.  The request of a visitor to inspect the charter in advance be granted or refused.  Should the charter be lost or destroyed, the Grand Master or Grand Secretary should be notified at once. Pending the issuing of a duplicate charter, a permission, or dispensation to continue work should be obtained from the Grand Master.


CHASTEN: To correct by discipline.


CIRCLE: A figure which has neither beginning nor end and symbolizes eternity; the universe.


CIRCURNAMBULATION:  The movement is in imitation of the apparent course of the sun, and so is in the form of an ellipse.  After the obligation the Senior Deacon with the candidate should make all turns square.


CIRCUMSCRIBED: literally encircled hence limited.


CLOTHED, PROPERLY: With white gloves and apron, and the jewel of his Masonic rank. Today the gloves are usually dispensed with.


COLUMNS: From the Latin culmen meaning "a pillar to support or adorn a building." In Masonry the symbolic Significance pertains to the supports of a lodge: Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.


COLUMNS, WARDENS: Represent Jachin and Boaz. While the lodge is at work the columns are erect and horizontal, respectively; while on refreshment, such positions are reversed.


COMMUNICATIONS: The meetings of a Symbolic lodge.


COMPASS: A mathematical instrument for dividing and drawing circles; an instrument indicating the magnetic meridian.


COMPASSES: One of the Working Tools. Freemasons have adopted the plural spelling to distinguish it from the magnetic compass.


CORNICE: The ornamented slab placed above the capital of a pillar, and extending beyond it.


COWANS: profanes, pretenders, intruders, particularly those seeking to obtain the secrets of  Masonry unlawfully.


CORNUCOPIA: The horn of plenty; a symbol of abundance.


CORN, WINE, AND OIL: Three elements of consecration. In ancient times these were regarded as the basic commodities for the support of life and constituted the wealth of the people. Today in the U.S. we think of corn as maize, but the original meaning is an edible grain or cereal. The Hebrew word for corn means "to be increased or to multiply."




DAIS: The platform, or raised floor, in the East of the lodge where the Master sits. In the lodge, the steps to this should be three. The Senior Warden's place should be raised two steps and that of the junior Warden, one step.


DARKNESS: Symbolizes that state of ignorance before light (knowledge) is received.


D.D.G.M: District Deputy Grand Master, an assistant who acts for the Grand Master in a particular district.


DEACON: Comes from the Greek diakonos meaning "messenger or waiting-man."


"DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF THE HOLY SAINTS JOHN.": Dedication is a less sacred ceremony than consecration. Hence, lodges are consecrated to God, but dedicated to patrons of the Fraternity.


DEMIT or DIMIT: A release; a resignation of membership; a paper certifying a withdrawal from a lodge (or Masonic body) when in good standing. Both spellings are used, although DIMIT is peculiar to Freemasonry only. In the U.S. some jurisdictions use the former spelling, but the majority use the latter, "Dimit."


DESTITUTE: lacking means, as without money or food.


DIGEST: Book of laws of a Grand Lodge in the U.S.; sometimes called The Code.


DISPENSATION: Permission to do that which would be forbidden otherwise.


DISTRESS: Physical or mental anguish. A brother in distress does not necessarily mean that he is without funds.


DOTAGE: An advanced age when the mind is no longer able to comprehend clearly.


DUE EAST AND WEST: Moses built the Tabernacle due east and west and this practice was carried on by the church builders. The Freemason travels from the West to the East (light) in search of a Master from whom he may gain instruction, or light,


DUE FORM: A Masonic body is opened or closed in "due form" when performed fully according to a prescribed ritual. Distinguished from "ample form."


DUE GUARD: A mode of recognition peculiar to Freemasons.


DULY AND TRULY PREPARED: That the candidate is truly prepared in his heart

and mind to receive further enlightenment; also, properly clothed, Masonically.




ECLIPTIC: the imaginary line followed on the earth's surface by the direct ray of the sun during the year. It niakes an angle of 23' 27' with the equator. Jerusalem is located in approximately 31' 30' north attitude, that is, approximately 7' 3' north of the ecliptic.


EAR, THE ATTENTIVE OR LISTENING: The Hebrew word means not only to hear, but to understand and to obey.


EAST: From the Sun worshipers down through the ages, the East has always been considered the most honored place because the sun rises in the East and is the region from which light rises.


EAVESDROPPER: One who attempts to listen surreptitiously; literally, one standing under the eaves and thus gets only the "droppings."


EMBLEM: A representation of an idea by a visible object; a symbolical figure or design.


EMBLEMATICAL: symbolical, representing.


EMBROIDERED: having a border.


ENTERED APPRENTICE: In Operative Masonry the apprenticeship lasted seven years; if then found acceptable, the apprentice’s name was entered on the books of the lodge and he was given a recognized place in the craft organization.


EUCLID: the first mathematician to Systematize the science of geometry.


EXAMINATION: the examination of a brother to determine his geniuses should not aim at displaying the committee's knowledge. It is a test of the visitor. He need not be able to answer questions from the Posting Lecture. He should know the signs, grips, and words.


EXPULSION: Forcible ejection from membership for such reasons as un-Masonic conduct, crimes, etc. It is the most severe of Masonic penalties and deprives the person of all rights and privileges formerly enjoyed from his lodge and the Fraternity as a whole.




FAITH. The evidence of things not seen; confidence; trust.


FAITHFUL BREAST: Symbolically, the initiate is instructed that the lessons he has received are to be treasured in his heart and remembered, and not to be forgotten; that which is told in confidence will be so held.


FELLOWCRAFT: A craftsman no longer an apprentice who has been admitted as full member, but who has not yet reached the status of a master. The fellowcraft age represents the stage of manhood.


FEALTY: Loyalty.


FIAT LUX ET LUX FIT: Latin motto meaning "Let there be light, and there was light."


FIDELITY: faithfulness.


FIRST LANDMARKS OF MASONRY: Modes of recognition with no variation.


FORM OF A LODGE: An oblong square or parallelogram, twice as long as wide. At the time of the Temple, the only known world was the Mediterranean Sea and the countries to the north, south and east, forming an oblong. Thus, the Freemason's lodge was the world itself.


47TH PROPOSITION OF EUCLID: Derived its name from the fact that it was the 47th problem in Euclid's geometry. Sometimes called problem or theorem, which are also correct. The 47th Proposition, or problem, is to prove that in a right angled triangle, the sum of the squares of the two sides is equal to the square of the hypotenuse. Masonically, it is an emblem of the arts and sciences and reminds us that next to sinfulness, the most dangerous enemy of life is ignorance.


FRATERNITY:  A brotherhood, in which blood-bonds are replaced by a common devotion to a principle, code, or creed.


FREE BORN: A free soul; one having attained mastery of himself by self discipline. It is a misconception that this refers to one not born into slavery.


FREEMASONS: The early builders in Operative Masonry times were free men, not serfs or bondsmen and were free to move from one place to another as their work demanded. Thus, they came to be called "Freemasons."


FURNISHINGS OF A LODGE: Holy Bible, Square and Compasses, Charter or Dispensation.




"G": The letter -G- is the Saxon representative of the Hebrew Yod and the Greek Tau; The initial letter of the name of the Eternal in those languages. It stands not only for God, but for Geometry, that science so important to all Freemasons.


G.A.O.T.U.: Grand Architect of the Universe.


GAVEL: Derives its name from its shape-that of the gable or gavel end of a house. It is a tool used by a stonemason and resembles a hammer having a pointed end for cutting. The Working Tool gavel differs from the upright gavel, or "Hiram." (See Hiram.)


GOD: The Hebrew words for Beauty, Strength, and Wisdom (the supports of Freemasonry) are Gomer, Oz, and Dabar. The initials of these words compose the English name of the Deity.


GRAND EAST: The place where the Grand Lodge holds its communications and from which place the edicts are issued.


GREAT LIGHTS: The Holy Bible, Square and Compasses. The Bible represents the will of God, the Square is the physical life of man and the Compasses represents the moral and spiritual life.


GRIPS: Every brother following his raising should be taught to start with the grip of an Entered Apprentice Mason and go through the grips, passes, and words to the Grand Masonic Word.


GUILD (GILD) MASONS. GUTTURAL: From the Latin guttur meaning "the throat."




HISTORICAL: According to history, verifiable, capable of documentary proof.  We also speak of traditional and legendary history, meaning popular belief, not upheld by fact.


HOMAGE: respect, as applied to men; worship, as applied to deity.


HOUR GLASS:  Emblem of life.


HEALED: Obligated in a degree which the Mason has not had conferred on him. To "heal" is to "make valid."


HELE: Pronounced "hail" and means to keep guarded, or secret. Sometimes spelled "hale."


HEMISPHERE: Half of the earth's surface, as the western hemisphere, the northern hemisphere.


HIEROGLYPHICS: Literally the symbols in the priestly writings of the Egyptians. Generally, a symbol or sign the meaning of which is known only to the initiated.


HIRAM: An upright gavel made in the form of a maul and used by a presiding officer.


H.K.T: Hiram, King of Tyre.


HOODWINK: A blindfold which is a symbol of secrecy; mystical darkness.


HOUR GLASS: An emblem of the passage of time.

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