Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Branding
BRANDING, an ancient mode of punishment by inflicting a mark on an offender with a hot iron. It is generally disused under the English civil law, but has been employed to punish deserters. It is not, however, now done by a hot iron, but with ink, gunpowder, or some other preparation, so as to be visible and permanent. The mark is the letter “D,” affixed on the left side two inches below the armpit.