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Glossary of Flag Terms

Diagram of flag and pole parts. 

 

Glossary of Flag Terms

 

  1. Appliqué:  One piece of material sewn to another.
  2. Appliquéd:  Technique of sewing one piece of material to another.
  3. 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.
  4. Badge:  A coat of arms or simple heraldic symbol.
  5. Banner:  A flag or piece of cloth bearing a symbol, logo, slogan, or message. Hung vertically from the top.  
  6. Bicolor:  A flag of two stripes of different colors directed horizontal, vertical, or diagonal.
  7. Bordered:  A flag where the central color is surrounded by a different color.
  8. Burgee:  A type of swallow-tailed pennant or flag used for seafaring vessels.
  9. Canton:  The rectangular or square part of a flag, usually found in the upper hoist (left hand) corner. Ex: The blue area of the US flag.
  10. Casket flag:  A 5 ft x 9-1/2 ft United States flag used in military funeral services. Comes in three materials: cotton, nylon, and tough-Tex. The cotton is draped over the coffin, with the nylon or tough-Tex is often gifted to the family for them to fly.
  11. Charge:  Any emblem placed on the field of a flag or added to the basic design of the flag.
  12. Cleat:  The device used to secure the bottom of the halyard to the flagpole.
  13. Civil Flag:  A version of the national flag that is flown by civilians on non-government installations or crafts. More commonly used in the past.
  14. 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. Ex. Family crests
  15. Color Fastness:  The ability of a material to resist fading and color migration relative to outdoor exposure.
  16. Colors:  A flag, ensign or standard borne in an army or fleet. A country's national flag.
  17. Counter-change:  A cross of colors placed inside the emblem on a flag or banner.
  18. Cross:  In vexillology, two joining strips, one vertical and one horizontal, centrally placed that extends across the whole flag. Ex. Flags of Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Norway).
  19. Double sided/Double thickness:  Two single flags sewn back to back so each side reads correctly. This doubles the flags weight and affects its ability to fly. Not recommended for use on outdoor poles.
  20. Emblem:  A graphic design used as part of a flag or coat of arms.
  21. Ensign:  A flag, banner, or standard showing office, rank, or nationality, especially of an army or ship.
  22. Ferrule:  Tubular portion of an ornament used to place it on the top of an indoor presentation pole. See also “Joint”.
  23. Field:  The backdrop color to a flag. Ex: On the Arkansas state flag, it is the red part.
  24. Fimbriation:  A narrow strip of color separating two like colors, or a canton from its field. See also “Canton” and “Field”.
  25. Flag:  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 its depiction in another medium.
  26. 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.
  27. Fly End:  The free flying end of a flag, usually opposite the heading.
  28. 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.
  29. Front/Obverse:  The surface seen when a flag is in its normal flying position – hoist on the left hand side.
  30. Garrison Flag:  A 20 x 38 foot US flag flown by Army, Marine, and Naval posts on special days. Posts may display the garrison flag for regional celebrations when directed by the post commander.
  31. Gonfalon:  A type of heraldic banner that is often pointed or swallow-tailed.  Can be suspended from a crossbar, and sometimes displayed with several streamers. Popular in universities and churches. See “Swallow-tailed”.
  32. Grommets:  The brass rings or eyelets for mounting flags or banners.
  33. Guidon:  A military standard flown by all branches of the United States Armed Forces. Used by company or platoon-sized elements to signify their unit designation and corps affiliation. A basic guidon can be rectangular or swallow-tailed.  See “Swallow-tailed”.
  34. Half Mast:  A nautical term indication the position of flag approximately halfway up a ship’s mast. Done in many countries as a symbol of respect, mourning, or distress.
  35. Half Staff:   The position of a flag approximately halfway up a flag pole. Done in many countries as a symbol of respect, mourning, or distress.
  36. Halyard:  The rope for an outdoor flagpole used to raise and lower the flag.
  37. Heading:  The heavy canvas or other reinforcing material used to hoist a flag.
  38. Hoist:  1) The vertical height of a flag. ; 2) The side used to attach the flag to a pole. ; 3) The raising or lowering of a flag on a pole.
  39. Indoor flag:  Flags constructed primarily for indoor use. Often include fringe. See “Fringed”.
  40. Jack:  A small flag flown at the bow of a ship, usually to indicate nationality.
  41. Joint:  The device used to hold a multi-part pole together. When threaded, a screw joint.
  42. 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.
  43. Motto:  Word or phrase used to as a symbol of a nation, province, corporation, etc.  Also used to signify the ideals of nation, province, corporation, etc.
  44. National Flag:  A flag that symbolizes a country. Flown by the government, but can usually be flown by civilians as well. In some countries, national flags are only flown at non-military buildings on certain flag days.
  45. Outdoor flag:  Flags constructed primarily for outdoor use. May also be used indoors.
  46. Pennant:  A piece of cloth often flown from a pole or mast, rope, or string. A pennant differs from a flag by the shape of the fly end. Pennant fly ends are often pointed, swallow-tailed, or burgeed.  See “Fly end”, “Swallow-tailed”, “Burgee”.
  47. Pole hem:  A sleeve through which the pole is passed through for mounting indoor flags and parade banners, or for outdoor decorative garden banners, flags, and guidons. The pole is twice the diameter of the pole.
  48. Post flag:  A 10 x 19 foot United States flag flown regularly over military instillations. It is half the size of a garrison flag. See “Garrison Flag”.
  49. Quartered:  A flag divided into four equal sections of differing design. Example: State Flag of Maryland.
  50. Retainer Ring:  A device used to assist the raising and lowering of a flag on a flagpole.
  51. 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.
  52. Saltire:  A diagonal cross stretching from corner to corner of the flag. Ex:The Scotland flag.
  53. Serration:  A flag where tow colors are separated by a serrated edge. Ex: Flag of Qatar.
  54. Single-Reverse:  A printed flag that reads correctly on the front, and has the reversed (mirror) image on the back. This is caused by bleed through from the printing process.
  55. Single-Sided:  A flag with the image only one side. Also known as Single-Face.
  56. Snap Hook:  A device used to attach a flag to the halyard (rope) on a flagpole.
  57. Storm Flag:  The smallest United States flag, measuring 5 feet by 9-1/2 feet, flown at army posts. Meant to be flown in stormy weather.
  58. Swallow-tail:  A V-shaped cut in a flag that causes it to end in two points at the fly. The name comes from the forked tail that is a common feature of the swallow family of birds.
  59. Triangle:  A flag divided by a triangle of a different color, usually at the hoist.
  60. Tricolor:  A flag made up of three stripes of three colors. Also known as a Triband.
  61. 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.
  62. Vexillology:  The science of studying flags, their history, meanings and symbolisms. The term was coined by Whitney Smith.
  63.