Ensign: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ensign of the Russian Navy

An ensign is a distinguishing flag of a ship or a military unit; or a distinguishing token, emblem, or badge, such as a symbol of office. The word has also given rise to the military rank of "ensign", a rank of junior officer once responsible for bearing the ensign of his unit.

The word is derived from the French enseigne from the Latin plural insignia and is more particularly used for a military or naval standard or banner. An armorial ensign applies specifically to heraldic symbols of an army.


Maritime ensigns

In nautical use, an ensign in the form of a flag is usually flown at the stern of a ship or boat to indicate its nationality. Ensigns may also be flown from the gaff of a ship, and may be shifted to a yardarm when the ship is underway, where it is known as a steaming ensign. Vexillologists distinguish three varieties of a national flag when used as an ensign:

The Red Ensign, as currently used for British civilian vessels
Naval ensign of Italy
Polish Navy ensign
Royal Australian Navy ensign (foreground)
  • A Civil ensign (usage symbol FIAV 000100.svg) is worn by merchant and pleasure vessels.
  • A State ensign or Government ensign (usage symbol (FIAV 000010.svg) is worn by government vessels, such as coast guard ships.
  • A naval ensign (usage symbol (FIAV 000001.svg) is used by a country's navy.

Many countries don't distinguish between these uses, and employ their standard national flag in all three contexts; such a multiuse flag is termed a national ensign. Others (like the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan) use a variant of the national flag as the naval ensign. Such flags are often strictly regulated as usable only on warships, and generally civilian ships would not fly naval ensigns. Distinct civil ensigns are also common. In rare cases a distinct design is used for the state ensign, such as the blue ensign of the United Kingdom.

If a warship goes into battle, large versions of naval ensigns (called battle ensigns) are used.

Heraldic ensigns

In heraldry, an ensign is the ornament or sign, such as the crown, coronet, or mitre, borne above the charge or arms.

Military standards

In many modern militaries, a "standard" refers to a type of ensign placed on a vehicle to indicate the rank of the occupant. This may be in the form of a decal on a windshield (such as the blue decals used to mark officers' cars in the United States armed forces), a license plate depicting an officer's rank insigne, or a small flag mounted on the hood or fender. These are the "standards" referred to in the 10th General Order for Sentries used by the United States Navy, which require subordinates to salute when the flags or placards are displayed "not cased."

Air ensigns

With the creation of independent air forces and the growth in civil aviation in the first half of the 20th century, a range of distinguishing flags and ensigns were adopted. Such ensigns may be divided into air force ensigns (such as the Royal Air Force Ensign) and civil air ensigns. Air ensigns are often light blue or air force blue in colour.

See also


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ENSIGN (through the Fr. enseigne from the Latin plural insignia), a distinguishing token, emblem or badge such as symbols of office, or in heraldry, the ornament or sign, such as the crown, coronet or mitre borne above the charge or arms. The word is more particularly used of a military or naval standard or banner. In the British navy, ensign has a specific meaning, and is the name of a flag having a red, white or blue ground, with the Union Jack in the upper corner next the staff. The white ensign (which is sometimes further distinguished by having the St George's Cross quartered upon it) is only used in the royal navy and the royal yacht squadron, while the blue and red ensigns are the badges of the naval reserve, some privileged companies, and the merchant service respectively (see Flag). Until 1871 the lowest grade of commissioned officers in infantry regiments of the British army had the title of ensign (now replaced by that of second lieutenant). It is the duty of the officers of this rank to carry the colours of the regiment (see Colours, Military). In the 16th century ensign was corrupted into "ancient," and was used in the two senses of a banner and the bearer of the banner. In the United States navy, the title ensign superseded in 1862 that of passed midshipman. It designates an officer ranking with second lieutenant in the army.

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

(1.) Heb. 'oth, a military standard, especially of a single tribe (Num. 2:2). Each separate tribe had its own "sign" or "ensign."

(2.) Heb. nes, a lofty signal, as a column or high pole (Num. 21:8, 9); a standard or signal or flag placed on high mountains to point out to the people a place of rendezvous on the irruption of an enemy (Isa. 5:26; 11:12; 18:3; 62:10; Jer. 4:6, 21; Ps. 60:4). This was an occasional signal, and not a military standard. Elevation and conspicuity are implied in the word.

(3.) The Hebrew word degel denotes the standard given to each of the four divisions of the host of the Israelites at the Exodus (Num. 1:52; 2:2; 10:14). In Cant. 2:4 it is rendered "banner." We have no definite information as to the nature of these military standards. (See BANNER.)

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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