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 flown from the mast-head of a ship.
Banner
Generically, a synonym for a flag of any kind, and in heraldry specifically, a square or rectangular flag whose design is identical to the shield of a coat of arms; also denominated a banner of arms.
Burgee
A distinguishing flag of a recreational boating organisation, which commonly has the shape of a pennant.
Civil ensign, merchant flag, or merchant ensign
A version of a national flag that is flown on civil ships to denote their nationality.
Civil flag
A version of a national flag that is flown on civil installations or craft.
Colour or color
The flag of a military unit.
Courtesy flag or courtesy ensign
A flag that is flown on a visiting ship in foreign waters as a sign of respect for the foreign nation.
Ensign
The flag of any ship or military unit, or, generically, a synonym for any kind of flag.
Fanion
A small flag that the French military uses.
Gonfalon, gonfanon, or gonfalone
A heraldic flag that is suspended and pendent from a crossbar.
Guidon
A small flag that a military unit flies; in Scottish heraldry, a smaller version of the standard (see below).
Pennon or pennant
A flag that is wider at the hoist than at the fly.
Pipe banner
A decorative flag for Scottish Highland bagpipes.
Prayer flag
A kind of flag that is flown along mountain ridges and peaks in the Himalayas in order to bless the surrounding land.
Rank flag or distinguishing flag
A flag that a superior naval officer flies on his flagship or headquarters.
Signal flag
A flag or pennant that communicates or signals information that is not heraldic.
Standard
In heraldry, a long tapering flag that bears heraldic badges and the motto of the armiger; it may also refer to a military colour that cavalry units fly or a royal standard of a monarch or member of a royal family.
State flag or governmental flag
A version of a national flag that represents and may be restricted in use only to the national government and agencies thereof; the design of many state flags consists of the civil flag (see above) defaced with a coat of arms or other heraldic charge.
Vexilloid
A flag-like object that is used in a similar symbolic manner as a flag, but that differs from a conventional flag in some way.
Vexillum
A flag-like object that is suspended from a horizontal crossbar; the Ancient Roman army used it as its military standard.
War flag, military flag, or battle flag
A variant of a national flag that a nation's military forces use on land.
Windsock
A conical textile tube that is used to indicate the direction and strength of wind.
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