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Glossary of Flag Terms

Diagram of flag and pole parts. 


    • Appliquéd: One piece of material sewn to another piece of material.
    • Back: The surface seen when a flag is not in its normal flying position with the hoist is to the viewer's right when flying on an in-ground flagpole.
    • Badge: A coat of arms or simple heraldic symbol.
    • Banner: A banner is a flag or other piece of cloth bearing a symbol, logo, slogan or other message. A banner is placed on display by the top, instead of by the side, like a flag.
    • Bicolor: A flag of two stripes of different colors directed horizontal, vertical, or diagonal.
    • Bordered: A flag where the central color is surrounded by a different color.
    • Canton: In Vexillology a canton the rectangular or square part of a flag, usually found in the upper hoist corner. Ex: The blue area of the U.S. Flag.
    • Casket flag: A 5 foot by 9-1/2 foot United States flag used in military funeral services to be draped over the coffin.
    • Charge: Any emblem placed on the field of a flag or added to the basic design of the flag.
    • Cleat: The device used to secure the bottom of a flagpole halyard (rope).
    • Civil Flag: A civil flag is a version of the national flag that is flown by civilians on non-government installations or craft. The use of civil flags was more common in the past, in order to denote buildings or ships that were not manned by the military. In some countries the civil flag is the same as the war flag or state flag, but without the coat of arms, and in others it is an alteration of the war flag.
    • Coat of Arms: A design, usually including a shield, that provides a standard arrangement of symbols recognized as standing for a country, province, corporation, etc.
    • Color Fastness: The ability of a material to resist fading and color migration relative to outdoor exposure.
    • Colors: A flag, ensign or standard borne in an army or fleet. A country's national flag.
    • Counter-Charged: A charge placed on a line where two colors meet, which reverses them. Example: The United Kingdom Flag.
    • Cross: In Vexillology a cross is two joining stripes, one vertical and one horizontal, centrally placed and extends across the whole flag.
    • Double Sided: A flag which reads correctly from both sides.
    • Double Thickness: Actually two single flags sewn back to back which doubles the flag weight and affects the ability to fly the flag. Not recommended for use on outdoor flagpoles.
    • Emblem: A graphic design used as part of a flag or coat of arms.
    • Ensign: A flag, banner, or standard showing office, rank, or nationality, especially of an army or ship.
    • Ferrule: A tubular portion of an ornament used to place the ornament on the top of an indoor presentation pole.
    • Field: The backdrop color to a flag. Ex: On the Arkansas state flag, it is the red part.
    • Fimbriated or Fimbriation: A narrow strip of color separating two broader stripes or larger areas. Edging or border.
    • Flag: A flag is a piece of cloth, often flown from a pole or mast, generally used symbolically for signaling or identification. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed by a flag, or to its depiction in another medium.
    • Flash Collar: A decorative cover used at the base of an in-ground flagpole used to deflect drainage away from the foundation of the flagpole.
    • Fly End: The free flying end of a flag, usually opposite the heading.
    • Fringed: A flag or banner with decorative fringe around all or part of its perimeter. Fringed flags are for indoor presentation use only. Fringed banners are for parade use or indoor use only.
    • Front: The surface seen when a flag is in its normal flying position with the hoist to the viewer's left.
    • Garrison Flag: A 20 foot by 38 foot United States flag flown by Army, Marine and Naval posts on special flag flying holidays in lieu of the usual post flag size. Posts may display the garrison flag for regional celebrations when directed by the post commander.
    • Grommets: The brass rings or eyelets for mounting flags or banners.
    • Guidon: In the United States Army, Marines, and Air Force, a guidon is a military standard that company or platoon-sized elements carry to signify their unit designation and corps affiliation. A basic guidon can be rectangular, but sometimes has a triangular portion removed from the fly (known as "swallow-tailed").
    • Half Mast: A nautical term used when a flag is flying approximately halfway up a ship's mast. This is done in many countries as a symbol of respect, mourning, or distress.
    • Half Staff: When a flag is flying approximately halfway up a flagpole in a residential or commercial setting. This is done in many countries as a symbol of respect, mourning, or distress.
    • Halyard: The rope for an outdoor flagpole used to raise and lower the flag.
    • Heading: The heavy canvas or other reinforcing material used to hoist a flag.
    • Hoist: The side of the flag used to attach the flag to the pole. Also, the term used when referring to raising a flag.
    • Indoor Flags: Flags constructed primarily for use on an indoor pole.
    • Jack: A small flag flown at the bow of a ship, usually to indicate nationality.
    • Joint: The device used to hold a 2-piece pole together.
    • Marching Right: The United States Flag is always on the marching right (the Flag's own right). The U.S. Flag should be in front of a line of different flags. Also how The United States Flag is displayed on a motorcycle; to the rider's perspective when facing forward
    • Motto: Word or saying used as a symbol for a nation, province, corporation, etc.
    • National Flag: A national flag is a flag that symbolizes a country. The flag is flown by the government, but usually can be flown by citizens of that country as well. In some countries, the national flags are only flown from non-military buildings on certain flag days. There are three distinct types of national flag for use on land, and three for use at sea, although many countries use identical designs for several (and sometimes all) of these types of flag.
    • Obverse: See definition for front.
    • Outdoor Flags: Flags constructed primarily for use on an outdoor pole.
    • Quartered: A flag divided into four equal sections of differing design. Example: State Flag of Maryland.
    • Plain: A flag without fringe.
    • Post Flag: A 10 foot by 19 foot United States flag flown regularly over army posts.
    • Pole Hem: A sleeve through which the pole is passed through for mounting indoor flags and parade banners or for outdoor decorative garden banners.
    • Retainer Ring: A device used to assist the raising and lowering of a flag on a flagpole.
    • Rope and Toggle: A flag with a rope passing through the heading. This rope is looped at the top and has a piece of wood attached the bottom. Most commonly used on nautical flags.
    • Saltire: A diagonal cross stretching from corner to corner of the flag. Ex:The Scotland flag.
    • Serration: A flag where tow colors are separated by a serrated edge. Ex: Flag of Qatar.
    • Single-Reverse: A flag which reads correctly from the front and reverse from the back.
    • Snap Hook: A device used to attach a flag to the halyard (rope) on a flagpole.
    • Storm Flag: The smallest United States flag, measuring 5 feet by 9-1/2 feet, flown at army posts.
    • Swallow-Tail: In flag terminology, a swallowtail is a V-shaped cut in a flag that causes the flag to end in two points at the fly. The name comes from the forked tail that is a common feature of the swallow species of birds.
    • Triangle: a flag divided by a triangle of a different color, usually at the hoist.
    • Tricolor: a flag made up of three stripes of three colors. Also known as a Triband.
    • Truck: The device at the top of an outdoor pole that houses the pulley wheel and to which an ornament is mounted. The truck is used on in-ground poles only.
    • Vexillology: The science of studying flags, their history, meanings and symbolisms.