Archive for the ‘Factoids’ Category

FYI: Vambrace?

Most people, especially we intrepid fantasy writers, know that the humble spellchecker often lacks imagination.

It’s always boggled me somewhat though that Microsoft Word’s spellcheck — in fact, most spellcheckers — do not recognise the word ‘vambrace’. It’s hardly what I would call an obscure word, and indeed, I’ve used plenty more obscure words on occasion that pass the test.

You might be wondering what exactly this strange object is that even the mighty Microsoft Spellchecker does not acknowledge the existence of. If you are, you might be surprised to learn that you have almost certainly seen one before.

Let’s see if I can jog your memory with some visual aids.


How about now?

Even if you don’t recognise any of these characters, you have now seen a vambrace.  So what exactly is it? If we entertain an explanation from the Wiki:

Vambraces […] are “tubular” or “gutter” defences for the forearm, developed first in the ancient world by the Romans, but only formally named during the early 14th century, as part of a suit of plate armour. They were made of either leather […] or from a single piece of worked steel and worn with other pieces of armour. […] Vambraces remained long in use after the high mark of Renaissance armor in Europe […]. Archers often wear bracers, a variant of vambraces, to protect their arms while shooting.


Vambraces were a very useful part of armour, as they protected the lower arm — an ideal and easy target, considering all the flailing around it does and how necessary it is for the act of holding a weapon — from being struck and injured during combat. Some versions of the vambrace, especially in plate armour, extended all the way up the arm up to (but not including) the pauldron, which is the shoulder armour. Vambraces are very common in both early armour and modern ‘interpretations’ of armour. It is very commonly included in modern representations, usually made from leather.  They’ve also managed to worm their way into subculture fare in more recent years, and decorative leather vambraces can quite easily be found for wear from sellers of Steampunk accessories.

By the way, ‘Pauldron’ is recognised by spellcheck. So is ‘greaves’, for the lower leg version of the vambrace. Unless you are using Google Chrome.

So, why has this always boggled me? Bugged me, even? Because despite not recognising this term, MS Word spellcheck recognises — and will auto-correct — the word ‘Netiquette’.

Kids these days.

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