This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Dictionary of Vexillology: A (Alfaquaquus - Appointment Flag)

Last modified: 2017-11-28 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

On this page:

The medieval term, now obsolete, for a person who is entitled to carry his banner erect on the King’s highway.

Please note that this word is recorded as having a Spanish origin (which remains unproven) however, the extent to which it was used in English medieval manuscripts is not known.

A late 17th early 18th Century term, now obsolete, for a ‘standard bearer’.

[alferes] [alferes]
Alferous/Standard Bearers C17th (Wikipedia)

a) It is suggested that the alternative form was sometimes used in medieval manuscripts
b) There is a possible relationship between this term and the Spanish military rank of alférez or ensign (see also ‘ensign 5)’.

In heraldry see ‘flamant’.

[alight] [alight]
Arms and Flag of Torres Vedras, Portugal (Antonio Martins)

The term for a pictorial illustration with a symbolic meaning, and whose imagery is usually intended to convey a moral and/or political message - see ‘anti-heraldry’.

Virginia, US Virginia, US  Jack - Batavian Republic  Flag - Batavian Republic  TS Warspite  TS Warspite
Flag and Seal of the State of Virginia, US (fotw and state symbols); Jack and Command Flag of the Batavian Republic 1797, The Netherlands (fotw); Badge and Flag of TS Warspite, UK (fotw)

See ‘Eye of God’.

Flag of Goppisberg Switzerland (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘canting’.

[Magdeburg]  [Magdeburg]
Flag and Arms of Magdeburg (or Maiden-Town), Germany (fotw)

A medieval term, now obsolete, for the upper part of the cart upon which the standard was placed (see also ‘carrocium’, ‘gajardus’ and ‘standard 6)’).

The term used to describe any flag or ensign (either official or unofficial) being presented as an alternative to that which is generally accepted (or officially established) for a particular role.

UAE Civil Ensign UAE alternative civil ensign Nicaragua Nicaragua alternative flag
National Flag/Civil Ensign as regulated, and Alternative Civil Ensign of the United Arab Emirates (fotw); National Flag/Civil Ensign as regulated, and Alternative Civil Ensign of Nicaragua (fotw)

See ‘linguistic flags’ (also ‘combined flag’).

language flag language flag
Amalgam Language Flags for English and German (CS)

In heraldry see ‘shades of tincture’.


See ‘diplomatic flags’.

[ambassadorial flag example] [ambassadorial flag example] [ambassadorial flag example] [ambassadorial flag example]
Ambassador’s flags: Sierra Leone, Italy 1918, Mexico 1911 – 1916, Mexico 1911 – 1916, Finland 1919 - 1920

See ‘service flag 3)’.

American War Mothers/Armistice Day Flag, US (Dave Martucci)

In heraldry see ‘cross moline’.

[example] [example]
Flag and Arms of Oegstgeest, The Netherlands (fotw & Wikipedia)

In UK usage, a term for the flag of the Lord High Admiral, and one the three masthead flags flown (since c1660) when the monarch is aboard a naval vessel – the Lord High Admiral’s or Admiralty flag – but see notes below (also ‘fouled anchor’ and ‘masthead flag’).

[Lord High Admiral] [Lord High Admiral] [Lord High Admiral] [Lord High Admiral]
Lord High Admiral 1660, England (fotw); Lord High Admiral 1685 – 1688, England (fotw); The Board of Admiralty 19th Century, UK (fotw); Current Pattern, UK (fotw)

This office reverted to the crown in 1964 and HM The Queen was, for many years, her own Lord High Admiral (the present incumbent is HRH The Duke of Edinburgh), however, during the preceding two hundred and fifty years the office was most often “in commission” and this flag (or variations thereof) was also flown by the Board of Admiralty – see ‘admiralty flag 2)’.
b) The three masthead flags flown when the monarch is aboard a naval vessel are traditionally that of the Lord High Admiral at the fore, the royal standard at the main and a union jack at the mizzen (see also ‘foremast’, ‘main’ and ‘mizzen’).

1) In heraldry, a coat of arms or charge formerly in use but now replaced by another design which is then termed modern such as, for example, Austria ancient and Austria modern – see ‘modern’.
2) In vexillology, a 16th/17th Century term, now wholly obsolete, for a ship’s stern mounted ensign, or military colour whether displayed ashore or afloat - an anshent or auncient (see also ‘colour 2)’, ‘deck flags)’), ‘ensign 1)’, ‘pavisade’, and ‘streamer 2)’.
3) A 16th/17th Century term, now wholly obsolete, equivalent to, and with the same duties as, the later but also obsolete army rank of ensign (see also ‘ensign 3)’ and ‘ensign 4)’).

[ancient example] [ancient example] [modern example] [English 1590 example]
From left: Austria Ancient, Austria Modern (fotw); France Ancient, France Modern (fotw); Ancient/Ship’s Ensign, English c1590 (Pete Loeser)

See ‘antique crown 2)’ and ‘coronet 1)’.

[ancient crown example] [ancient crown example]
Arms and Flag of Reguenga, Portugal (fotw)

In English heraldry the term for a (usually but not invariably) single-masted sailing ship, regardless of specific type – an antique ship – but see notes below.

[ancient ship] [ancient ship] [ancient ship] [ancient ship] [ancient ship]
Flag and Arms of Kostrena, Croatia (fotw); Flag of Hauts-de-Seine, France (fotw); Arms and Flag of Lisboa, Portugal (fotw)

A vessel with oars but more than one mast should be blazoned “galley” – see ‘galley’.
b) Single-masted Medieval sailing ships fall into a number of different categories of which two are separately defined herein under ‘cog 2)’ and ‘nef’.
c) This term can (and sometimes does) include sailing vessels with more than one mast as illustrated below – see ‘caravel’, ‘carrack’ and ‘galleon’.

[ancient ship]
Jack of Trinity House, UK (fotw)

See ‘St Andrew’s cross 3)’ and its following note. 

[Russian ensign] 
Russian ensign (fotw).

Please note that Андреевский - Andreevskiĭ with alternative transliterations - is the Russian term for their naval ensign.

See ‘outrigger pole’.

angled pole

See ‘chamfered swallow-tail’.

angled pole
Guidon of the Royal Gloucestershire Yeomanry 1797, UK (fotw)

An ancient Egyptian cross-like symbol – an ankh cross or Egyptian cross (see also ‘cross tau’).

ankh cross  ankh cross ankh cross
Flag used by the Music Group X Clan (fotw); Arms and Flag of Ribafria e Pereiro de Palhacana, Portugal (ICH and fotw)

A ring-like charge in heraldry – see ‘ring 1)’.

Wendezelle, Germany Wendezelle, Germany Suraua, Switzerland Suraua, Switzerland Groß Twülpstedt, Germany Groß Twülpstedt, Germany
Flag and Arms of Wendezelle, (Germany fotw); Flag and Arms of Suraua, Switzerland (fotw & Wikipedia); Flag of Grahamstown, South Africa (fotw); Flag and Arms of Groß Twülpstedt, Germany (fotw & Wikipedia)

In heraldry see ‘in annulo’.

Wendezelle, Germany Wendezelle, Germany
Arms and Flag of the Rulers of Tuscany, 1531-1737 (Wikipedia & fotw)

See ‘ancient 2)’.

Ancient England
An Anshent/Ancient, English c1590

See ‘code pennant’.

Suraua, Switzerland
Code/Answering Pennant in the ICS (fotw)

A flag designed to be displayed from a vehicle’s radio antenna - see ‘car flag 2)’.

A term, now obsolete, for the guard who precedes a standard (see also ‘standard 5)’).

Please note, it is suggested that the alternative form was used in medieval manuscripts.

A computer graphics term used to describe the technique of giving low resolution flag illustrations a smoother appearance by colouring pixels at the border between two differently coloured surfaces with intermediate shades.

1) A newly introduced term for a flag that displays (for patriotic or commercial reasons) any symbol or symbolism prior to official authorization.
2) See ‘flag of pretence’.

39-star US flag Bolivian naval ensign
39 Star Flag of the United States 1839 (fotw); Naval Ensign of Bolivia (fotw)  

Please note that the 39 star of the United States, for example (and illustrated above), displays a symbol in advance of any official authorization, whereas a “flag of pretence”, for example the national flag of Comoros or naval ensign of Bolivia, shows one more star than they have provinces under their control.

A term used to describe the design of those seals and emblems which do not contain (and may have been specifically designed not to contain) heraldic symbolism – for example the seals of many US states widely used on their flags, and the emblems of most former Soviet-bloc states (see also ‘allegory’, ‘heraldry’, ‘emblem 2)’, ‘pre-heraldic’, ‘seal’, ‘seal flag’ and ‘state flag 2)’).

Florida state seal Virginia state seal National symbol of France Soviet Union Emblem 1956-1991 Yugoslav Emblem
State Seal of Florida, US (fotw); State Seal of Virginia, US (ICH); National Symbol of France (ICH); Emblem of Soviet Russia 1956 – 1991 (fotw); Emblem of Yugoslavia 1963 – 1991 (fotw)

Please note that this term has its origins in a rejection of heraldic symbolism and of all things having a connection to royalty or the nobility, with prominent early examples stemming from the American War of Independence and the French Revolution.

1) Generically and in Continental European heraldry see ‘coronet’).
2) Specifically in English heraldry, a type of coronet that is generally (but not exclusively) composed of a circlet with triangular rays - an ancient or Plantagenet crown.

[antique crown] [antique crown] [antique crown] [antique crown]
Flag of the Citizens of Guelph, Canada (fotw); Flag of Wellington, Canada (fotw); Flag of Newfoundland, Canada 1862 – 1872 (fotw); An English Heraldic Pattern Antique Crown (Parker)

In heraldry see ‘ancient ship’.

[antique ship]  [antique ship]
Ensign and Burgee of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club, UK (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘attire(s)’.

[antlers] [antlers]
Arms and Flag of Draž, Croatia (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘attired’.

[antlered] [antlered]
Arms and Flag of Heiden, Switzerland (Wikipedia & fotw)

(n & v) A method of flag manufacture in which one or more pieces of cloth are stitched on the field to form a design. This technique is often used where the design on the obverse differs from that on the reverse – but see ‘double appliqué’ and ‘single appliqué’ (see also ‘obverse’ and ‘reverse’).

1) In UK and some other military usage, that flag which corresponds to a particular position held, rather than to the rank of the officer who currently holds it - but see ‘positional flag’ (also ‘class flag’ and ‘rank flag 1)’).
2) See ‘distinguishing flag 1)’.

[appointment flag example] [appointment flag example] [appointment flag example] [appointment flag example]
Military Attaché, UK (Graham Bartram); RAF Station Commander, UK (Graham Bartram); RNZAF Officer of Air Rank Commanding a Base, New Zealand (fotw); Flag of the Secretary of Defense, US (fotw)

Introduction | Table of Contents | Index of Terms | Previous Page | Next Page