Seal (device)

Wax seal on an envelope

A seal is something such as a piece of wax which has an official mark on it, and which is attached to an important letter or document to make it official. It can also mean the device (e.g. a metal stamp or ring) which is used to make the official mark.The word comes from the Latin “sigillum”.

The study of seals is called Sigillography.


Seals are used on documents to prove that they really did come from the person who signed it (they “authenticate” the document). A seal could be put on the letter itself, or on the envelope where it is stuck down. The writer would pour some wax over the joint of the letter, then press a ring or metal stamp (called a matrix) which has his official mark on. This meant that no one would be able to open the letter and then close it again, because the seal will break when the letter is opened. Most governments still put seals on important documents. Letters do not normally have seals any more, even important letters.

Sometimes lead, pewter or ivory were used instead of wax.

Each seal is different from any other. This means that an important person (e.g. a king) has his own personalized stamp.

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Siegel
العربية: ختم
беларуская: Пячатка
čeština: Pečeť
Deutsch: Siegel
eesti: Pitsat
Ελληνικά: Σφραγίδα
English: Seal (emblem)
español: Sello (cuño)
Esperanto: Sigelo
français: Sceau
Gàidhlig: Seula
한국어: 도장
हिन्दी: मोहर (चिन्ह)
hrvatski: Pečat
íslenska: Innsigli
עברית: חותם
қазақша: Мөр
latviešu: Zīmogs
lietuvių: Antspaudas
lingála: Kasɛ́
magyar: Pecsét
Bahasa Melayu: Cap mohor
монгол: Тамга
Nederlands: Zegel (waarmerk)
日本語: 印章
norsk: Segl
norsk nynorsk: Sigill
occitan: Sagèth
polski: Pieczęć
português: Sinete
română: Sigiliu
slovenčina: Pečať
slovenščina: Pečat
српски / srpski: Печат
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Pečat
suomi: Sinetti
svenska: Sigill
українська: Гербова печатка
文言: 印章
ייִדיש: זיגל
粵語: 圖章
中文: 印章