- A spar rigged at an upward angle from the upper part of a mast or pole, and
equipped with a halyard at its highest point from which an ensign is flown when
at the peak. A gaff may be fitted to the mizzenmast (or other masts dependent upon the rig) of a sailing ship, or from
the mast of a warship (when it will sometimes carry a command flag), or from a
mast (or stayed mast) ashore (see also fore,
sailors mast and
Please note that if a gaff is fitted to a flag pole or mast for civilian
use ashore, it is generally (but not exclusively) that flag which is used as a civil ensign (or a yacht
ensign if appropriate) which is flown from its peak (see also
civil ensign and
yacht ensign under
- A medieval term, now obsolete, for the carriage upon which a standard was fixed
a carrocerum (see also standard 6)
Please note that in the early-middle ages, standards were
sometimes (for reasons which are now unclear) transported into battle and displayed
whilst mounted on some form of wheeled conveyance.
- A bar running at right angles from the staff from which the flag is partially suspended.
Please note, however, that use of the term with this meaning is
given by only one source, and that such use is otherwise unsupported.
- See guardant in Appendix V.
- 1) In heraldry, a term for a closed or almost closed ring consisting
of intertwined leaves, or of leaves and flowers a chaplet (see also
2) On flags as above, but the term is also used to describe an open topped
wreath composed of leaves, or of leaves and/or flowers, that does not exceed
two-thirds the depth of the object surrounded (for example that on the flag of
Parana, Brazil) or sometimes considerably less but see
From left: Flag of Parana, Brazil (fotw); A Garland in Heraldry According to English Heraldic Practice (Parker)
Please note with regard to 1), that the English heraldic
requirement of only four flowers per garland is not generally observed in flags.
- GARRISON FLAG
- In US usage, the largest of the three standard sizes of national flag flown
at army posts - 20 x 38 feet or 6.1 x 10.9m (see also
post flag 1),
storm flag and
Please note that the use of standard sizes of flag
at army posts is by no means limited to the US (although the names may differ),
and that the largest size is the one displayed on days of national celebration
and/or service significance, or as otherwise regulated (see also
holiday colours and
- GENEVA CONVENTION FLAG
- See 'safe conduct flag 1)'.
- GIN PENNANT (or PENDANT)
- In British RN and some other usage, an unofficial pennant of varying design now
often a defaced version of the starboard pennant in the NATO signalling code raised
when a ships officers wish to entertain the officers of another ship or ships
(see also pennant 2) and
senior officer afloat pennant).
One version of the gin pennant, UK (CS)
Please note that the above is usually made on board
from whatever materials lie to hand, however, the company Gordons Gin are known to
have supplied a number of commercially produced gin pennants to yachtsmen in the 1950s.
Commercially Produced Gin Pennant c1955, UK (CS)
- GITON (GETON or GYTTON)
- A medieval term, now obsolete, used to describe a small (possibly swallow
tailed) flag (see also pennant and
Please note that there is no proven connection between
these terms and guidon, but that the similarity
cannot be ignored.
- GOLDEN MEAN, THE
- That proportion, first recorded by classical Greek sources, which is considered
particularly pleasing to the human eye; it is the ratio of two values where the
relationship of the smaller (A) to the larger (B) is the same as that of the larger
to the total, and has the value of (in round figures) 0.618 (with the reciprocal
being 1:1618). It is most usually seen on flags as proportions of either 5:8 or
3:5 - the divine, golden or magic ratio, or golden section.
Please note from the illustration that ratio a:b
is the same as b: a+b, with the exact value being
, or 0.6180339887
it is suggested that a mathematical reference work be consulted if further or
more complete details are required.
- GOLDEN RATIO (or SECTION)
- See golden mean above.
- GONFALON (or GONFALONE)
- 1) A usually long (sometimes elaborate) flag designed to be hung vertically from
a cross bar, often having a shaped bottom edge or terminating in tails or tongues and
characteristic of Italy and of Central Europe, or of the religious associations in
Western Europe where it might also be called a religious banner
(see also banner 3).
and triangular-ended tails).
- 2) A flag that is designed to be attached both along its hoist to the staff,
and along its top to a side-mounted cross-bar (see also
framed flag 2)).
Gonfalon of Asciano Tuscany, Italy (fotw)
Please note not to be confused with a gonfanon
or with the hanging flag of German speaking and Central European countries (see
also hanging flag, and
- The bearer of a gonfalon or standard (see also
- A term, now largely (if not wholly) obsolete, for the - often hereditary -
honorary office of gonfalonier (standard or flag bearer) to a monarch (see
- A war flag of pre-heraldic Europe, often tapered from hoist to fly, generally
attached to a lance and ending in from two to five squared, rounded or triangular
tails. Not to be confused with the later gonfalon
(see also double-tailed descate,
swallowtail and tongue and
Gonfanon of Eustache III of Auvergne c1100 (CS)
- GONTFANONARIUS (or GONFAGONIER)
- A medieval term, now obsolete, for a standard bearer.
- The generic term for a tapering piece or pieces of fabric that is sometimes used to describe
the triangular blue fields of the British union jack (see also
union flag 1),
union jack 1) and
union jack 2)).
Army Pattern of Union Flag, UK (fotw)
- GOVERNMENT ENSIGN
- See under ensign.
- GOVERNMENT FLAG
- See state flag 1).
- GRAND UNION
- See continental colors.
- GRAVE DECORATION FLAG
- see 'memorial flag'
- GREAT BANNER
- The term, now obsolete, for a banner showing all the quarterings of a deceased
persons coat of arms for use at that persons funeral (see also
achievement of arms 2),
coat of arms 2),
and livery banner).
Please note that according to English heraldry the sizes of a
great banner were originally as follows: that of an Emperor; six feet square, a King; five
feet square. a Prince or Duke; four feet square, a Marquis, Earl, Viscount, Baron, and
Knight-baronet; three feet square.
- GREAT STANDARD
- A term, now obsolete, for the Scottish heraldic standard as flown from a fixed
staff, and there are indications that it was the largest of three sizes (see also
standard 5), and
- GREAT UNION
- 1) In UK usage, the pattern of Union Flag displayed by military colours and
originally authorized on 30 August 1900 (see also
colours 2) and
union jack 1)).
- 2) In US usage, a term referring to the 1775 pattern of national flag and
occasionally used in place of grand union or continental colours see
The Great Union, UK (CS)
- GREATER ARMS
See under arms.
- GREEK CROSS
- 1) A cross of any colour whose arms are of equal length, and which extends
to the edges of a flag, panel or canton.
- 2) A cross of any colour whose arms are of equal length, but which does not
extend to the edges of a flag, panel or canton a cross couped (see also
From left: Naval Jack, Greece (CS)
National Flag of Switzerland (CS)
- GRIDIRON FLAG
- In UK usage a term, now obsolete, for the red and white striped flag of the Honourable East India
Company, it was introduced as an ensign c1600 and worn as such outside home waters from c16761824,
then as a jack until 1864 (see also continental colours,
From left: HEIC Flags, England c16001707; UK 17071801; UK 1801-1864 (fotw)
Please note that thirteen is the usual number of stripes shown, but that nine or
eleven are occasionally seen in contemporary flag books.
- 1) A hole or eyelet, reinforced by stitching or an inserted metal ring, usually
found at both ends of the heading on the hoist of a flag, through which clips,
attached to the halyard pass (see also Appendix I).
- 2) In naval heraldry the rope decoration that often surrounds a ships badge
- sometimes incorrectly referred to as a ships crest (see also
- See field.
- GROUP COMMAND PENNANT
- See command pennant.
- GRUMPHION (or GRUMPHEON)
- A Scottish term, now obsolete, for a small funeral flag bearing a deaths
- See guardant in Appendix V.
- GUBERNATORIAL FLAG
- In particularly (but not exclusively) US usage, a flag which symbolizes the
office of governor.
Flag of the Governor of Michigan, US (fotw)
- GUEST ON BOARD FLAG (or GUEST FLAG)
- In US usage the practice, almost certainly obsolete, of flying a blue flag with
a white descending diagonal stripe from the starboard yardarm (or spreader) of a
pleasure vessel when a guest is on board but the owner is absent (see also
owner absent flag and
Guest on Board Flag, US (fotw)
- 1) In US and some other military usage, a small, generally swallow-tailed
flag used by army formations below battalion level - company, battery, troop,
platoon, detachment and at group level in the air force (but see also
fanion 2) and
- 2) In UK and some other military usage, the swallow-tailed flag (sometimes
double-tailed descate or descate) that is the cavalry equivalent of an infantry
regimental colour, and still displayed on fighting vehicles by their successors
(see also colour 2),
double-tailed descate and
- 3) A Scottish flag 2.40m long, tapering to a rounded (or lanceolate) fly, it
has a body in livery colours, with the owners crest or badge at the hoist and
his motto in the fly, and is used by lairds who have a following but are not peers
or feudal barons (see also badge in heraldry,
- 4) Generically, any small swallow-tailed flag.
Guidon of the Blues and Royals, UK (Graham Bartram)
Please note, some sources suggest that the term
is derived from guide-homme (guide-man), but this remains unproven, and the similarity
with the medieval terms geton, giton or gytton cannot be ignored.
- GUL(S) (or GULLS)
- A term used to describe the individual segment or segments of a geometric carpet
design and usually employed to describe those on the national flag of Turkmenistan.
National Flag of Turkmenistan (fotw)
- The heraldic term for the colour red (see also Appendix III
and rule of tincture).
- GUN SALUTE
- 1) A form of saluting, ashore and afloat, in which 21 blank rounds are fired
by artillery or naval guns to honour a country or its flag.
- 2) A form of saluting in which an appropriate number of guns are fired to
honour a head of state, other dignitary, or a senior officer, or the flag representing
him (see also broad pennant,
distinguishing flag 1),
flag of command,
rank flag 1)).
Please note that flag officers will receive a number
of guns scaled according to their rank - that is an Admiral of the Fleet/five
star admiral - 19 guns; Admiral - 17 guns; Vice Admiral - 15 guns; Rear Admiral
13 guns, whilst a Commodore receives 11 guns and a Captain only seven in reply.
Please note also that in some countries a celebratory
salute of as many as 101 guns may be fired at the birth of a royal heir or other
occasion of national celebration (example--50 guns at noon on 4 July at US Army
posts), and that minute guns (that is one shot fired every minute) may be fired
in connection with the death or funeral of a person entitled to a gun salute.
- A medieval term, now obsolete, for a gonfanon (see gonfanon).
- When the field of a flag or shield is divided into sectors (called gyrons)
radiating from or near the centre of the flag or shield typically eight in heraldic
practice, but an undetermined number on flags. Formerly a characteristic of Swiss
military flags, the best known present-day example is probably the jack of the
Royal Netherlands Navy (and compare with radiating).
See supplemental note
From left: Fafe, Portugal (Sιrgio Horta); Naval Jack of the Netherlands (CS);
Swiss Regiment (De Meuron) in British service 18th C (fotw)
- See gyronny above.