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Dictionary of Vexillology: A (Aquila - Azure)

Last modified: 2008-01-05 by phil nelson
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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See ‘eagle 2)’.

See ‘coronet 2)’.

archducal bonnet archducal bonnet
State Service Flag and Arms of Salzburg, Austria ensigned with an Arch-Ducal Bonnet

See ‘cross of Lorraine’.

honorary title, now obsolete, for the chief standard or flag bearer to the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire (see also ‘archivexillum’ and following note), and ‘gonfaloniership’.

A recently redefined term intended to cover a flag design that is established - or recommended - by authority, and upon which other flags (adapted as required) may be based – a template flag. A typical example is the British blue ensign that acts as a basic template for other government flags, and for the flags of most British Overseas Territories (see also ‘archivexillifer’, ‘armorial ensign’, ‘colonial flags’, ‘blue ensign’). ‘defaced’, ‘core flag’, and ‘undefaced’.

[archivexillum example]
From left: UK Blue Ensign (Graham Bartram), UK Customs Ensign (Graham Bartram), UK Fleet Auxiliary Ensign (Graham Bartram)

Please note that the word appears in a 19th Century German etymological dictionary as the origin of the term erzbanner (that may be translated as chief or imperial banner) but – with the exception of a possible relationship to the term archivexillifer - this is otherwise unsupported by further sources.

A heraldic term for the metal silver, it is generally shown as white in flags, but occasionally as grey, sometimes as silver leaf or metallic paint, or in an embroidered design, as silver thread (see 'Appendix III', 'embroider', and 'rule of tincture').

See Appendix V.

A generic term for any flag that pertains to a particular branch of the armed services, or a unit within that branch.

Please note however, that the various types of flags used by the armed services – for example an appointment flag, branch of service flag, camp flag, colour, flag of command, guidon, positional or rank flag – are separately defined herein and are, we suggest, to be preferred in description.

See ‘canting’.

(adj) Possessing or showing a coat of arms (see also 'armorial bearings').

See ‘banner 1)’.

All the armorial insignia to which an individual or family, a corporate institution such as a nation, province or municipality, or a commercial enterprise are entitled – an achievement of arms or complete (armorial) achievement or establishment of arms – but see note below for further details (also ‘greater arms’ and ‘state arms 2)’ under ‘arms’, ‘coat of arms 1’), ‘quarters’, ‘quartering’ and ‘quarterly’).

Please note, however, that a full set of armorial bearings can include (for example) shield, supporters, helmet, torse, crest, collar, mantling, compartment, motto etc., and whilst many of the terms used are illustrated in Appendix IV and/or briefly defined herein, it is suggested that a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted for full details.

A newly introduced term that is intended to cover a British or British-style ensign (or a canton flag) whose fly is defaced with a set of armorial bearings or the escutcheon therefrom (see also ‘archivexillum’, ‘armorial bearings’, ‘blue ensign’, ‘canton flag’, ‘escutcheon’, ‘government ensign’ under ‘ensign’ and ‘red ensign’).

Fiji Jersey British Antarctic Territory Mauritius civil ensign
From left: National Flag of Fiji (fotw); Government Ensign of Jersey (fotw); Flag of British Antarctic Territories (fotw); Civil Ensign of Mauritius (fotw)

1) Generically, a term that covers any flag showing all or part of an entity’s armorial bearings against a field of any description (see also ‘armorial bearings’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’).
2) Specifically, a term that covers any flag whose main charge is a set of armorial bearings or a part thereof, and which is set against either livery colours or a plain field  – but see ‘ensign banner’ (also ‘charge 2)’, ‘livery colours’ and ‘plain 2)’).

[New Jersey, US] [Bisbo Portugal] [Bibinje, Croatia] [Galicia, Spain]
From left: Flag of New Jersey, USA (fotw); Flag of Bisbo, Portugal (Horta); Flag of The Yukon, Canada (fotw); Flag of Bibinje, Croatia fotw); Flag of Galicia, Spain (fotw)

Please note that this term has been introduced by the Editors since no established alternative could be found.

A term for the largely obsolete (but not entirely) practice of having all or a part of a coat of arms displayed on a au^airfe.html  vessel’s sail (see also ‘armorial bearings’ and ‘coat of arms’).

armorial sail
NCO Naval School, Colombia (Eugene Ipavec)

See ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms’ and ‘shield’ , together with ‘greater arms’, ‘glesser arms’, ‘gmiddle arms’ and ‘gstate arms’ below (also ‘gflag arms’).

Greater Arms
In largely northern European usage, an official description for the full set of armorial bearings of a nation or province – but see ‘middle arms’, ‘lesser arms’ and ‘state arms 2)’ (also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms 1)’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’)

greater arms of Bremen greater arms of Sweden
Greater Arms of Bremen, Germany and of Sweden (fotw)

Lesser Arms
In largely northern European usage, the most simplified form in which the set of armorial bearings of a nation or province may be officially shown – but see ‘greater arms, ‘middle arms’ and ‘state arms 1)’ (also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms 1)’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’)

lesser arms of Bremen lesser arms of Sweden
Lesser Arms of Bremen, Germany and of Sweden (fotw)

Middle Arms
In largely northern European usage, a simplified form in which the set of armorial bearings of a nation or province may be officially shown – but see ‘greater arms’, ‘lesser arms’ and ‘state arms 1)’ (also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms 1)’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’)

lesser arms of Bremen
Middle Arms of Bremen, Germany (fotw)

State Arms (or Coat of Arms)
1) Generically any coat of arms or emblem that is considered representative of a nation or of a nation state – the national arms (see also ‘lesser arms’ and ‘middle arms’, ‘coat of arms 1)’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’ and ‘emblem, state or national’).
2) Specifically the establishment of arms that officially represents a nation state, as opposed to any part (or parts) therefrom, or those of the relevant head of state or of any variation which may appear on a flag (see also ‘establishment of arms’, ‘flag arms’ and ‘greater arms’).

In British Army usage and some others, the term for an ensign (different from the branch of service flag) that is flown at sea by army vessels (see also ‘branch of service flag’ and ‘government ensign’ under ‘ensign’).

UK army ensign
Army Ensign, UK (fotw)

See ‘branch of service flag’ (also ‘armed services flag’).

See ‘registration flags’.

A diagonal stripe that runs from the lower hoist corner to the upper fly corner, and which centres on the corners of the flag – a bend sinister. See ‘bend sinister’ in Appendix VI (also ‘descending diagonal’, ‘east-west diagonal’, ‘north-south diagonal’, ‘south-north diagonal’ and ‘west-east diagonal’).

[ascending diagonal example]
National Flag of Tanzania (fotw)

See ‘chakra’.

See ‘proportions’.

In UK and some other usage, a coronet based on the naval model, but composed of wings and stars, and representative of the military air service (see also ‘coronet’ and ‘naval crown’).

[astral crown example]
(Martin Grieve)

A charge added to a flag or coat of arms to indicate special recognition for some – not necessarily military – service, with an example being the George Cross that was added to the arms of Malta and now appears on their current national flag and naval jack - an addition of honour (see also ‘battle honour’ and ‘charge’).

[augmentation example]
From left: National Flag of Malta (fotw), Naval Jack of Malta (fotw)

Please note that this is in comparison to a battle honour which is almost invariably related to combat, and is entirely military in character.

See 'ancient 2)'.
See ‘oriflamme’.

A colloquial term for one of the several designs suggested (over a period of several years) as alternatives to the current Australian national flag.(see also ‘flag design competition’ and ‘flag proposal’).

Australia Ausflag proposal Ausflag proposal Ausflag proposal
National Flag of Australia (fotw); Three examples of an Ausflag proposals from 1993 – 2000 (fotw)

Please note that Ausflag Ltd is an organization committed to the promotion of a new Australian national flag

See ‘outrigger flag’.

See ‘car flag’.

See ‘rank plate’.

See ‘government ensign’ under ‘ensign’.

A flag or pennant signifying that the organization displaying it has received the citation, commendation or other award represented by the flag's design - citation flag/pennant or commendation flag/pennant.

[award pennant example]
The Queen’s Award for Export Achievement, UK (Graham Bartram).

In US largely usage, a streamer attached to the flag of a military unit to signify the award of an order, citation, decoration, or similar collective honour (see also ‘streamer 1)’).

A heraldic term for the colour blue (see also ‘Appendix III’ and ‘rule of tincture’).

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