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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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Corner flag
- A small flag flown at each of the corners of a football pitch or other sports field.
- 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.
- The flag of any ship or military unit, or, generically, a synonym for any kind of flag. On ships, an ensign is normally flown at the stern.
- A small flag that the French military uses.
- Gonfalon, gonfanon, or gonfalone
- A heraldic flag that is suspended and pendent from a crossbar.
- A small flag that a military unit flies; in Scottish heraldry, a smaller version of the standard (see below).
- A flag flown from a short jackstaff at the bow of a ship.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A conical textile tube that is used to indicate the direction and strength of wind.
- A coat of arms or simple heraldic symbol.
- Any quarter of a flag, but commonly means the upper hoist quarter, such as the field of stars in the flag of the United States or the Union Jack in the Australian Flag.
- A figure or symbol appearing in the field of a flag.
- A device often used as a charge on a flag. It may be heraldic in origin or modern, for example the maple leaf on the Canadian Flag.
- The background of a flag; the color behind the charges.
- A narrow edging or border, often in white or gold, on a flag to separate two other colors. For example the white and gold lines of the South African Flag.
- A decorative or protective cap atop the flagpole. Often shaped like a sphere, but can also be a shape with heraldic significance, such as a spear or an eagle. Sometimes referred to as a capper.
- The half or edge of a flag farthest away from the flagpole. This term also sometimes refers to the horizontal length of a flag.
- The half or edge of a flag nearest to the flagpole. This term also sometimes refers to the vertical dimension of a flag.
- The span of a flag along the side at right angles to the flagpole.
- Width or breadth
- The span of a flag down the side parallel to the flagpole.
Flags often inherit traits seen in traditional European heraldry designs and as a result patterns often share names.
Techniques in flag display
- Flying the flag upside-down, or tying it into a wheft.
- A style of flag display where the flag is flown at least the width of the flag between the top of the flag and the top of the pole.
- The act or function of raising a flag, as on a rope.
- The act or function of taking down a flag, as on a rope.
Flag illustrations generally depict flags flying from the observer's point of view from left to right, the view known as the obverse (or "front"); the other side is the reverse (or "back"). There are some exceptions, notably some Islamic flags inscribed in Arabic, which is written from right to left; for these the obverse is defined as the side with the hoist to the observer's right.
- ^ For example, 36 US Code §176 provides: "The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property."
- ^ "Flying flags upside down". fotw.net. 30 September 2006. Archived from the original on 19 May 2012.