- 1) Generically, any piece of cloth (occasionally paper, plastic or metal) usually
with provision for attaching by one edge to a staff or halyard, generally (but
not exclusively) intended to fly freely in the wind, and which by displaying the
colours and/or the charges upon it, to act as a mark of identity, rallying point
- 2) See flag down, to.
Please note with regard to 1) however, that the above is not meant
to be in anyway exclusive, that flags are divided into many different categories
by their shape, function and/or design, and that these are accordingly listed
- FLAG ARMS
- A term used when the arms that appear on a flag are officially different from the
relevant national or provincial coat of arms or emblem (see also
armorial bearings and
coat of arms)
From left: The Flag Arms and National Arms of Peru; The
Flag Arms and Provincial Arms of Saxony, Germany (fotw)
- FLAG BELT
- A leather strap worn around the waist and neck, with a supporting leather
socket into which the bottom end (or foot) of the staff is fitted, and which assists
a marching standard/colour bearer to support its weight a colour belt or sling
(see also colour bearer,
staff 2) and
- FLAG BOOK (or FLAGBOOK)
- A collection of flag images and/or of flag information illustrated with such
images, that is published in book form or as a loose-leaf folder (see also
flag chart and flag plate).
- FLAG BURNING
- The wanton destruction of a flag by public burning, usually (but not exclusively)
for political motives (but see also rules of preservation and disposal in
- FLAG CANTON
- See canton flag.
- FLAG CARRIER
- 1) An airline and in the past also a shipping line that is considered
to represent the nation concerned and whose aircraft will usually carry a representation
of the national flag (see also national flag).
- 2) An airline or shipping line whose aircraft or ships are registered in a
given country and entitled to fly or display its flag.
- FLAG CHARGE
- A charge placed specifically on the field of a flag (see also
- FLAG CHART
- A collection of flag images produced on a single sheet, that is displayed
fully opened out and often rolled up or folded for storage (see also
flag book and flag plate).
- FLAG CODE
- A set of protocols to govern the correct and respectful usage of the national
flag. In some countries these are enforceable by law, but in others they remain
recommendations only see Appendix II
(also flag etiquette, flag law,
rules of respect and
position of honour).
- FLAG DAY (or FLAG WEEK)
- 1) A holiday, commemorative day or other period of time for the affirmation
of patriotic values expressed in and through the national flag (see also
flag flying days and
- 2) In UK usage, the term that describes a charity event during which donations
are acknowledged by the receipt of a paper flag (see also
flag flying days and
lapel flag 2)).
- FLAG DESIGN COMPETITION
- A competition (either official or unofficial) that invites designs from which a new
or replacement flag may be selected - usually by a committee appointed for that purpose (
see also ausflag and flag proposal).
- FLAG DISC (or DISK)
- In the British Royal Navy and in some others, an (appropriate) metal disc
displayed on boats carrying an officer of flag rank to indicate whether that officer
expects full ceremonial passing honours, or whether they are proceeding informally
and only require normal side party salutes (see also
boat flag 3),
flag officer and royal plate).
From left: Alert and Salute only; Courtesy Salute Only, RN (Graham Bartram).
- FLAG DISCRIMINATION
- The often legal requirement for shippers to choose the national flag carrier,
airline or shipping company over others (particularly but not exclusively foreign
lines) when shipping goods or transporting people (see also
- FLAG DOWN, TO
- (v) To signal a vehicle to stop or slow down as a warning of danger or obstruction on a road or railway,
by waving a (usually) red flag, slowly up and down, or by using only the hand by day or torches by night in
similar fashion (see also 'flag').
- FLAG ETIQUETTE
- The international customs applicable to the display of flags when flying together
see Appendix II and
'rules of etiquette' (also
flag code, flag law and
position of honour).
- FLAG EXCHANGE
- A term and a direct translation of the German flaggenwechel used to describe the point during
the fitting out of a vessel when the builders house flag is replaced with that of its new owners (see
also launching flags).
- FLAG FAMILY
- A group of flags that share a common heritage or feature, usually shown in either
the colours used or the design employed, or in both (see also
core flag, difference,
'pan-Arab Colours' and 'pan-Slavic Colours').).
From left: Arab Revolt Flag 1917 (fotw); The National Flag of Jordan (fotw);
The National Flag of the Sudan (fotw); The National Flag of the United Arab Emirates (fotw)
- FLAG FLYING DAYS
- An official list of occasions upon which flags must be flown, generally (but
not exclusively) from public buildings (see also flag day).
Please note that the list of flag flying days usually
refers only to the relevant national flag, but that there are several exceptions.
- FLAG LAW (or LEGISLATION)
- The legal means, by which any constituted authority establishes, regulates,
defines or amends a flag (see also Appendix II,
flag code, flag etiquette,
position of honour,
specification sheet and
- FLAG LIEUTENANT
- In British RN and some other usage, the title carried by the aide to a flag officer
(see also flag officer 2)).
Please note that the title derives from that officers former
principal responsibilities (now superseded by modern communications methods) for the
handling of an admirals flag signal traffic.
- FLAG MAST (or FLAGMAST)
- See flag pole (also mast,
'staff 2)' and
Please note that the terms flagstaff, flag mast
and flag pole may be considered as interchangeable, but that mast and staff
when used alone have specific meanings.
- FLAG OF CEREMONY
- See indoor flag.
Please note that this term is a direct translation of the
Spanish "Bandera de Ceremonia" and should not be confused with a ceremonial
ensign (or flag) as listed separately herein.
- FLAG OF COMMAND
- 1) In naval usage, the rank flag of an officer entitled to fly a flag or broad
pennant when that officer is appointed to command naval forces (see also
rank plate and
- 2) An alternative term for a rank flag (see also
distinguishing flag 3),
personal flag 4), and
From left: Fleet Admiral, USN (fotw); Admiral. USN (fotw); Vice
Admiral, USN (fotw); Rear Admiral, USN (fotw); Rear Admiral (lower half) USN (fotw)
Please note, that although these terms are sometimes
considered interchangeable, the Editors have drawn a general distinction between
the command flags used by senior naval officers, the rank flags employed by officers
from the other armed services, the distinguishing flags of civilians and with
personal flags. Please note also, that a further distinction has been drawn between
the flag of command which replaces the masthead pennant, and command pennants
which do not.
- FLAG OF CONVENIENCE
- The flag flown by a vessel registered in one country, but whose owners are
not nationals of that country, and usually for reasons of economy or the evasion
of more stringent regulations elsewhere.
- FLAG OF DEFIANCE
- A plain red flag widely used in European waters prior to the invention of
flag signal codes to signify an intention to give battle colours of defiance or
the bloody flag (see also baucans).
Please note that although in widespread use prior
to this date, the flag of defiance did not appear in English naval Instructions
until 1647 (and was dropped in 1799).
- FLAG OF DISTRESS
- 1) Flag V (Victor) in the International Code of Signal Flags flown at sea
as a request for assistance.
- 2) Flags N (November) and C (Charlie) hoisted as a group at sea to indicate
that a vessel is in distress.
- 3) In US usage, an orange flag bearing a black square and disk in the centre
prescribed by the US Coast Guard for use by small boats and pleasure craft in
the territorial and inland waters of the USA.
From left: 1) Signal Flag Victor;
2) - 3) NovemberCharlie;
4) US Signal
Please note that, whilst some may still acknowledge
an upside-down ensign as a signal of distress, it is no longer recognized under
international rules; and that the waft, also previously used, is now entirely
obsolete (see also
International Code of Signal Flags,
signal flag and
Also please note that according to the US Coast
Guard regulations the orange flag should be either square with vertically arranged
symbols as illustrated above, or rectangular with the square and disc horizontal, and that
a very similar signal is recommended in the ICS for identification from the air (see also
International Code of Signals).
- FLAG OF HONOUR (or HONOR)
- In now obsolete Austro-Hungarian maritime usage, one of two flags presented to merchant
captains for meritorious service in peace (white field) or war (red field), and flown from the
mainmast between 1850 and 1918 an honour flag but see note below (also main).
Austro-Hungary 1850 1918 (Željko Heimer)
Please note that the term honour flag has been used for two other designs issued
by different authorities under differing circumstances, and it is therefore suggested that this form of the
term should be applied only to those flags see
honour flag 1) and
honour flag 2).
- FLAG OF PROTECTION
- 1) See 'safe conduct flag 1)'.
- 2) In largely (but not exclusively) UK usage now obsolete, a term
sometimes employed to describe the flag of a powerful state that has extended
its military and/or naval protection over another.
- FLAG OF ST GEORGE
- See St Georges Cross 2).
- FLAG OF THE MARINE CORPS
- See branch of service flag
(also armed services flag and
- FLAG OF TOLERANCE
- One of six different flags introduced by UNESCO in 1995 and designed to be symbolic
of the spirit of tolerance.
- FLAG OF TRUCE
- A plain white flag displayed as a sign of surrender, or as a wish for the
temporary cessation of hostilities a parley flag (see also
- FLAG OFFICER
- 1) A naval officer entitled to fly a flag of command, which replaces the masthead
pennant when that officer is aboard ship (see also
flag of command,
masthead pennant 1)).
- 2) In the British Royal Navy and others, as above but an officer over the
rank of commodore (see also
broad pennant and
flag of command).
- FLAG PATCH
- A small representation of a flag sewn or otherwise fixed onto an item of clothing,
usually but not invariably on the upper sleeve, and often used by military personnel
a shoulder patch.
- FLAG PLATE
- 1) A single illustration or series of illustrations (almost invariably coloured)
on a single page (or pages) which is printed separately (for reasons of production
cost) and inserted into an otherwise completed book of textual information (see also
flag book and flag chart).
- 2) A term sometimes incorrectly used to describe a piece of tableware, often (but
not invariably) produced by shipping companies, that bears the illustration of a flag.
- FLAG PLEDGE
- See flag salute.
- FLAG POLE (or FLAGPOLE)
- The post of wood, metal or a synthetic material upon which a flag is hoisted
by means of a halyard, - a flag mast or flag staff, but see
outrigger pole (also
Please note however, that the terms flag staff,
flag mast and flagpole may be considered as interchangeable, but that mast and
staff when used alone have specific meanings (see also
mast and staff 2)).
- FLAG PROPOSAL
- The term which covers any flag suggested as an alternative to a design currently used,
or one of those designs from which the choice of a new flag is to be made, or for a design
that has been so proposed in the past but never accepted, (see also
flag design competition).
Rejected Design for the National Flag of The Bahamas, 1973 (fotw)
- FLAG PROTOCOL
- See flag etiquette (also
- FLAG SALUTE
- 1) An oath of allegiance through a ceremony involving the national flag
flag pledge. Flag salutes are required of military personnel in most countries,
but when done by civilians, it is usually (but not invariably) out of custom.
- 2) A term also sometimes used to indicate a salute made with a flag as in
for example - a merchant vessel dipping its flag to a warship (see also
- 3) See salute to the flag.
- FLAG SLING
- See 'flag belt'.
- FLAG STAFF (or FLAGSTAFF)
- See flagpole (also
Please note that the terms flagstaff, flag mast
and flagpole may be considered as interchangeable, but that mast and staff when
used alone have specific meanings (see also 'mast' and
- FLAG STATE
- The country in which a vessel or aircraft is registered, documented or licensed,
and whose flag it is entitled to display.
- A term used when one or more of the main charges on a flag (usually but not invariably
part of a coat of arms or emblem) include the depiction of another flag or flags forming
an integral part of the design (see also coat of arms 1) and
From left: National Flag and Arms of Ecuador (fotw); National
Flag and Arms of Haiti (fotw); National Flag of South Africa 1928 1994 (fotw)
Please note that this category does not include those flags
or ensigns whose canton consists of another flag (such as the British or Indian red
ensigns) and for which the term canton flags may be used (see
- A sport and folk custom, particularly of Italy and Switzerland, in which flags
are twirled and tossed in the air a survival and extension of the standard 17th
Century military practice of postures (see also
Please note that an unrelated local ceremony of
flourishing flags, called casting the colours, occurs annually in Selkirk, Scotland.
- Use of the national flag, literally or figuratively to justify actions or
principles, or to excite patriotic fervour.
- A recently coined, term which is used to describe the illustration of a flag, or of a
flag-like object, which is not intended to represent any flag in actual use, but which has
the backing of some credible source and/or which employs a widely recognized emblem as part
of its design but see fictional flag and
fictitious flag. For example the official coat of arms of the
Mexican province of Hidalgo includes the national flag of Mexico and a flagoid (a non-existent
blue rectangular version of the Guadeloupe processional banner known to have been in use c1810).
The Arms of Hidalgo (fotw)
- 1) In US naval usage, a traditional nickname for signalmen whose duties include the display
and care of signal flags and ensigns but see
bunting tosser (also
yeoman of signals).
- 2) In British Royal Navy and some other usage, a traditional nickname for the flag lieutenant see
- A naval vessel flying the flag of a flag officer or the broad pennant of a
commodore (see also broad pennant,
flag of command and flag officer).
Please note that in British RN and some other usage,
a naval vessel in commission which does not carry an officer described above is
a private ship (see also
masthead pennant 1) and