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Dictionary of Vexillology: S (Squadron - Stars and Stripes)

Last modified: 2024-06-01 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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See ‘command pennant’.

[Squadron Command Pennant]
Squadron Command Pennant, Belgium (fotw)

See ‘distinction of colour’.

Squadronal colour Squadronal colour Squadronal colour
Command Flags of Flag Officers of the Red, White and Blue 1702 - 1864, England/UK (fotw)

1) A cross whose (straight-sided) arms are of equal length - see ‘Greek cross’.
2) See ‘cross 1)’.

Square cross Quebec Canada
Flag of the Minister of Military Affairs, Greece (fotw); Flag of Quebec, Canada (fotw)

Please note regarding 1), that this term has been extended by the Editors due to its previously inappropriate/inaccurate usage.

Alternative terms for a diamond shape or lozenge having four right angles and equal sides – a square diamond or rotated square - see ‘lozenge 2)’ (also ‘fusil’). ’.

square lozenge square lozenge square lozenge
House Flag of Linnhoff Schiffahrt, Germany (fotw); Former President’s Standard, Italy (fotw); Flag of San Miguel de Sema, Colombia (fotw)

a) Such a charge is sometimes seen in Middle European heraldry/symbolism (and occasionally elsewhere)
b) This is not an established term and has been introduced by the Editors as no established alternative could be found.

(adj) Alternative terms used to describe a flag, now increasingly (but not entirely) obsolete, or a ceremonial flag/gonfalon, whose fly is cut into two or more square-ended tails – square/rectangular-tailed or digitate (see also ‘ceremonial flag 1)’, ‘gonfalon 1)’, ‘gonfanon’, 'multi-tailed', ‘pallia’, ‘rectangle’, ‘schwenkel’, ‘swallow-tail(ed)’, ‘swallowtail and tongue’ 'tails), and ‘triangular-ended tails’).

Venice, Italy  Flag/Gonfalon of Knin, Croatia
Flag of Venice, Italy (fotw); Ceremonial Flag/Gonfalon of Knin, Croatia (fotw)

1) At sea, the short mast upon which the jack and ensign are hoisted – see ‘ensign staff’ and ‘jack staff’.
2) The wooden shaft, often with a spear point finial, to which indoor flags; military colours and parade flags are affixed – the pike (see also ‘indoor flag’, ‘colour 2)’, ‘finial’, ‘lance’, ‘parade flag’ and ‘pike’).
3) See ‘flag pole’.

See ‘baton(s) fleury’.

Flag of Nunningen, Switzerland (fotw)

An unadorned staff with a single serpent wound around it, and symbolic of the medical profession – a rod of asclepius or asklepian (see also ‘caduceus’).

staff of Asclepius staff of Asclepius staff of Asclepius 
Flag of The National Military Health Service, RSA (fotw); Badge of the Army Medical Corps, Canada (fotw); Camp Flag of the Royal Army Medical Corps, UK (Graham Bartram);

Please note that this should not be confused with the caduceus as referenced above, which has two serpents on a winged staff and is symbolic of medical institutions.

Alternative heraldic terms for a caduceus - see ‘caduceus’.

[staff of Hermes example] [staff of Hermes example]
Flag and Arms of Holwerd, Netherlands (fotw)

See ‘decorative knot’.

Stafford knot
Flag of Brisbane, Australia (fotw)

See ‘finial’.

Staff Ornament/Finial, US Army (fotw)

The official name for the second (although first formally adopted) national flag of the Confederate States of America as introduced in 1863 and modified in 1865 (see also ‘banner 7)’, ‘battle flag 1)’, ‘southern cross 2)’ and ‘stars and bars’).

CSA 1863 CSA 1863 CSA 1965
The Stainless Banner, CSA 1863 in National Flag and Naval Ensign Format and as Modified 1865 (fotw)

A term sometimes used to describe mixed tinctures and shades of tincture – but see the note below, plus ‘mixed tinctures’ and ‘shades of tincture’.

Please note that “stains” is an arbitrary abbreviation of the heraldic term 'staynande colours' which is an alternative term for ‘abatements’ or symbols of disgrace and is (in addition) almost certainly the origin of the later phrase a “stain on the (or his) escutcheon”, so we strongly suggest that a suitable glossary or dictionary of heraldry be consulted before use – see ‘abatements’ (also ‘coward’ with its following note and ‘escutcheon’).

In heraldry see ‘seeded’ and the following note.

stamened stamened stamened
Flag and Arms of Ig, Slovenia (fotw): Flag of Saga, Japan (fotw)

Please note that botany draws a distinction between the stamen and seedpods of a rose or other flower, whereas English heraldry does not.

1) A term used to describe all the colours carried by an infantry regiment - formerly up to nine (occasionally more) in English service - now generally (but not exclusively) limited to two per regiment/battalion (see also ‘colour 2)’, ‘colours 2)’, ‘company colours’, ‘device 2)’, ‘postures’ and ‘wavy flame’).
2) In US Civil War usage, a term sometimes employed (often in newspaper reporting) to describe a flag or flags, particularly those captured in battle (see also ‘trophy flag’).

[stand of colors]
A Stand of Six Colours, Colonel to the Third Captain, English c1644

a) The above illustrations are loosely based on a surviving colour from the English Civil War - that of a sixth captain in Sir John Gell'S Regiment of Foot (Parliamentarian) 1643-44 - and upon one system of differencing such colours known to have been in use at that time (see ‘venn’ (also ‘difference 1)’).
b) some Continental armies (most notably those of France and Austria) often had a larger establishment of men per battalion than was customary in the English service, so the number of colours carried could be commensurately greater.

1) The flag of a head of state - see ‘imperial standard 1)’ and ‘presidential standard’ and ‘royal standard 1)’ with its following note.
2) See ‘heraldic standard 1)’ and ‘heraldic standard 2)’.
3) A rectangular flag used as a ceremonial unit flag by some cavalry and certain other military units (see also ‘sovereign's standard’). See supplemental note.
4) In obsolete usage, a pole with an emblem on the top around which soldiers could rally (see also ‘eagle 2)’ and ‘vexilloid 2)’).
5) As 4) above but fixed in place (rather than carried by a soldier), or alternatively transported in a large vehicle of its own (see also ‘carrocium’ and ‘gajardus’).
6) A figurative or poetic term for the symbol around which people rally.

standard standard standard
Royal Standard of Norway (fotw); Presidential Standard of Croatia (fotw); Heraldic standard of the Master Gunner St James’ Park UK (Graham Bartram)

1) One who bears the regimental, unit, or national standard (see also balcanifer’, ‘colour 2)’, ‘colour bearer’, ‘cornet 3)’, ‘enceniator’, ‘ensign 4)’, ‘gonfalonier’, ‘standard 1) - 5)’ and ‘vexillary’).
2) See ‘colour bearer’.


See ‘chevron 1)’.

standard chevron
Flag of Zedelgem, Belgium (fotw)

Medieval terms, now obsolete, for a standard – see ‘heraldic standard 1)’ and ‘heraldic standard 2)’.

Heraldic Standard of King Henry IV c1450, England (fotw)

Please note that standardum and standale are, respectively, the Latin and Italian words for standard, and that these and the derivations thereof were used more or less indiscriminately by medieval scribes.

A frequent misspelling of the heraldic term ‘statant’ – see ‘statant’.

1) On flags, a charge – either solid colour or voided - in the form of a geometric shape with radiating points. Stars with five points are the most common, but any number is possible, for example: Aruba - four, Israel - six, Australia - seven, Azerbaijan - eight and Malaysia – sixteen (see also ‘active’, ‘inactive’ ‘Magen David’, ‘pointed’, ‘radial orientation’ and ‘voided’).
2) In heraldry see ‘mullet’ and ‘estoile (also ‘rowel’).

[flags featuring stars] [flags featuring stars] [flags featuring stars] 
National Flag of Aruba (fotw); National Flag of Somalia (fotw); National Flag of Azerbaijan (fotw)

Please note that in vexillology the difference between a multi-pointed star and a sun is usually only a matter of official symbolism, however, a sun may sometimes be distinguished by having a ring around its central disk (Taiwan), a face (Argentina) or wavy points (British Columbia) – see also ‘active’, ‘inactive’, ‘rays 1)’, ‘ring 1)’ and ‘sun emblem’.

1) Generally a poetic nickname for the US national flag – the Stars and Stripes (see also ‘Betsy Ross flag ’, ‘continental colours’, ‘eagle standard’, ‘Franklin flag’, ‘great star flags’, ‘old glory’, ‘quincunx’and ‘stars and stripes’ below).
2) The US national flag with 15 stripes and 15 stars in use between 1795 and 1818.
3) Specifically the flag, as defined in 2) above, but which flew over Fort McHenry, Baltimore in 1814.
4) The national anthem of the US – but see note below.

star-spangled banner star-spangled banner
National Flag of the US (fotw); National Flag of the US, 1795 – 1818 (fotw)

Please note that the US national anthem – from a poem by Francis Scott Key - specifically refers to the flag as defined in 3) above, and which is preserved in the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

See ‘yardarm’ and following note.

See ‘senior officer afloat pennant’.

NATO Starboard Pennant
Starboard/Senior Officer Afloat Pennant in the NATO Code of Signals (fotw)

See ‘faceted’.

star gyronny example  star gyronny example
Badge and Flag of the Governor General, Australia 1909 – 1936 (fotw)

See ‘Magen David’ and its following note.

Star of David Star of David
Arms and Flag of Penhascoso, Portugal (fotw)

See ‘rank plate’.

Star/rank plate, Lt General Army and Marine Corps US
Star/rank plate, Lt General Army and Marine Corps US

A popular name for the first (although never formally adopted) national flag of the Confederate States of America, and in use from 1861 – 1863 (see also ‘eagle standard’, ‘southern cross 2)’, ‘stainless banner’ and, ‘stars and stripes’ below).

Confederate first national Confederate first national Confederate first national
Three Versions of the First National Flag, CSA 1861 - 1863 (fotw)

A popular name for the US national flag (see also ‘Betsy Ross flag’, ‘eagle standard’, ‘Franklin flag’, ‘great star flags’, ‘old glory’, ‘quincunx’ ‘star-spangled banner’ and ‘stars and bars’ above).

[1912 US flag] [1912 US flag] [current US flag]
National Flags of the US: 1908 – 1912, 1912 – 1960 and from 1960 (fotw)

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