Glossary of vexillology

Flag terminology is the nomenclature, or system of terms, used in vexillology, the study of flags, to describe precisely the parts, patterns, and other attributes of flags and their display.

Flag types

Banderole or bannerol
A small flag or streamer carried on the lance of a knight; or a long narrow flag flying from the mast-head of a ship.
Banner
Generically, a synonym for a flag of any kind. In heraldry, a flag whose design is the same as the shield in a coat of arms, but usually in a square or rectangular shape; also known as a banner of arms.
Burgee
A distinguishing flag of a recreational boating organisation. It is commonly in the shape of a pennant
Civil ensign, merchant flag or merchant ensign
A version of the national flag flown by civil ships to denote nationality.
Civil flag
A version of the national flag flown by civilians on non-government installations or craft.
Colour or color
The flag of a military unit.
Courtesy flag or courtesy ensign
A flag flown by a visiting ship in foreign waters as a token of respect.
Ensign
The flag of a ship or military unit. May also be used generically as a synonym for a flag of any kind.
Fanion
A small flag used by the French military.
Gonfalon, gonfanon or gonfalone
A type of heraldic flag suspended from a crossbar.
Guidon
A small flag borne by a military unit. In Scots heraldry, a smaller version of the Standard.
Pennon or pennant
A flag larger at the hoist than at the fly.
Pipe banner
A decorative flag for the Scottish Highland bagpipes.
Prayer flag
A type of flag found strung along mountain ridges and peaks in the Himalayas, used to bless the surrounding countryside.
Rank flag or distinguishing flag
The flag flown by a superior naval officer on his flagship or headquarters.
Signal flag
A flag or pennant used to send signals.
Standard
In heraldry, a long tapering flag bearing heraldic badges and the owner's motto. The term may also refer to a military colour carried by cavalry units; or to a royal standard, a flag used by a monarch or members of a royal family.
State flag or government flag
A variant of a national flag designated or restricted to use by a country's government or its agencies.
Vexilloid
A flag-like object, used in a similar symbolic manner to a flag, but that differs from a conventional flag in some way.
Vexillum
A flag-like object, suspended from a horizontal crossbar, used as a military standard in the Ancient Roman army.
War flag, military flag or battle flag
A variant of a national flag for use by a country's military forces when on land.
Windsock
A conical textile tube used to indicate the direction and strength of the wind.
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