Terrance Goodloe
by on May 31, 2023
When you walk by a traditional bar, you may see a peculiar sign hanging outside. Pub signs have a lengthy history and are often connected to British and Irish culture. Many bar signs may only seem beautiful, but they often have intriguing backstories and secret meanings. This post will take you into the fascinating world of bar signs and the mysteries they conceal.

Literal and Figurative Meanings:

The names of bars or their locations are often represented by literal meanings on pub signs. The title "The King's Arms" may display a picture of a royal coat of arms, for instance. Other signs, however, offer historical facts, folklore, or local tales or contain hidden meanings. To fully comprehend these indicators, some interpretation is necessary.

Symbols and Icons:

Pub signs often use a variety of symbols and motifs, each with a distinct meaning. A white swan stands for elegance and beauty, while a red lion often denotes courage or majesty. Other animals, like horses or dogs, may represent certain breeds or cultural connotations. Key symbols, for example, might imply secrecy or pique interest.

Historical References:

Pub signs often honor notable people or historical events. For example, "The Plough and Stars" can allude to a location's agricultural heritage, while "The Nelson's Arms" might honor Admiral Nelson, a celebrated naval hero. These signs provide a window into the history and culture of the area.

Folklore and Legends:

Pub signs are well renowned for their ties to regional myths and tales. For instance, the term "The Green Man" alludes to a legendary character connected to nature and fertility. Other signs could include figures from local myths or fantastical animals like unicorns or dragons. These signs preserve traditions while also adding appeal.

Humor and Wordplay:

Pub signs sometimes use witty wordplay or comedy to provide a smart twist to the name or design. On signs like "The Chequers," which has a checkered design, or "The Fox and Hounds," which shows a sly fox being pursued by a pack of hounds, puns, double entendres, or amusing images may be found. These placards give the ambiance of the tavern a fun touch.

Preserving Tradition:

While trends and modern technology have changed many facets of life, pub signs are still a beloved institution that thrives. Their symbolic representations and covert meanings give the lively pub culture depth and intrigue. The fact that these signs continue to be an essential component of bar décor speaks something about how durable they are.


Take a minute to notice the sign hanging outside the tavern the next time you pass by. A complex tapestry of subliminal messages, including historical and folkloric allusions, as well as deft wordplay and comedy, are concealed inside these custom bar signs. They provide a fascinating window into regional culture and customs in addition to acting as a visual identity. So, raise a glass and toast to the fascinating world of bar signs and the mysteries they conceal the next time you visit one. Cheers!
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