I was hoping to get some help with a general word or phrase meaning or specifying an object unique to its owner. E.g. A special sword owned by a knight, a special instrument owned by a musician, or a unique book owned by a magician.

Ideas that come to mind but aren't quite right are:

  • Talisman
  • Totem
  • instrument (probably closest but doesn't portray the importance I want it to)
  • The broadened sense of trademark ('something very noticeable that a person typically has or does') (CD) would perhaps work were it not for the clash of registers. May 4 at 13:28
  • @EdwinAshworth - Yes, I had been thinking signature in the same sense.
    – Jim
    May 4 at 14:04
  • Possibly bespoke. That means made to order, and the ordering is where the "spoke" comes in. Of course, that's the term from a maker's point of view; from a user's point of view it might not work. Though "bespoke tailoring" has some of the right feel, in a land where there's no magic except advertising. May 4 at 14:39
  • A talisman is a good luck charm of sorts, not specialized. A totem is a symbol representing you. May 4 at 15:00
  • 2
    @Jim Collins endorses the nounal usage << signature [noun] 3. a. a distinctive mark, characteristic, etc, that identifies a person or thing >>, though I'm sure the attributive usage is far more common for this sense. I'm not sure whether this would be a good answer, but it's perhaps as near as one can get. Of course, the default sense of the noun conflicts (if not as badly as with 'trademark'). May 4 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


TV tropes calls it an Iconic Item.

Within the text they also use "signature item", which I feel may be an even better fit:

Early in [The Fourth Doctor's] run the production team had intended his yo-yo to be his signature item (note its prominent use in "The Ark in Space"), but it didn't stick.

Just "signature" alone has the potential to be confused with a John Hancock (though you could say that John Hancock's John Hancock is his signature item, a signature).

  • I was about to suggest signature item. This Wikipedia entry (Signature weapon) also dances around both signature and trademark: "A signature weapon (or trademark weapon or weapon of choice) is one commonly identified with a certain group or, in the case of literature, comics, and film, where it is a popular trope, for both heroes and villains to be associated with and highly proficient in the use of specific weaponry." So the batarang might be Batman's signature weapon; not a big stretch to say signature item. May 4 at 16:37

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