Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Difference.

 Dieu.Digest (The). 
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E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
 
Difference.
 
Ophe’lia says to the queen, “You may wear your rue with a difference.” In heraldry differences or marks of cadency indicate the various branches of a family.   1
   (1) The eldest son, during the lifetime of his father, bears a label (or lambel), i.e. a piece of silk, stuff, or linen, with three pendants, broader at the bottom than at the top.   2
   (2) The second son bears a crescent.   3
   (3) The third, a mullet (or star with five points).   4
   (4) The fourth, a martlet.   5
   (5) The fifth, an annulet.   6
   (6) The sixth, a fleur-de-lis.   7
   (7) The seventh, a rose.   8
   (8) The eighth, a cross-moline.   9
   (9) The ninth, a double quatre foil.   10
   Ophelia says both she and the Queen are to wear rue: the one as the affianced of Hamlet, eldest son of the late king; the other as the wife of Claudius his brother, and the cadet branch. The latter was to have a “difference,” to signify it was a cadet branch. “I [says Ophelia] shall wear the rue, but you [the Queen] must now wear it with a ‘difference.’”   11
 


 Dieu.Digest (The). 

 
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