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Dictionary of Vexillology: N (Naiant - Navy Flag)

Last modified: 2022-09-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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The alternative heraldic terms used when a fish (or occasionally a water-fowl) is shown swimming per fess, usually towards the dexter – natant (see also ‘haurient’, ‘per fess’ and ‘urinant’).

Naiant Nyon, Switzerland Nyon, Switzerland
Flag of Svolvær, Norway (fotw); Arms and Flag of Kali, Croatia (fotw)

In British RN and some other usage, the terms (employed as a metaphor for taking an irrevocable action) which refers to a ship’s ensign being nailed to the mast before or during an engagement at sea, thus making it impossible to strike (or lower) it in surrender (see also ‘strike’).

1) (n) One means by which a colour or parade flag is sometimes fixed – often by a precisely regulated number of nails - to its staff (see also ‘colour 2)’, ‘colours 2)’, ‘parade flag’, ‘sleeve’, ‘tab’ and ‘ties’).
2) (adj) The act, sometimes ceremonial, of attaching a colour or parade flag to is its staff by nails.

Nyon, Switzerland
Infantry Colour, Germany 1936 (fotw)

A frequent misspelling of the heraldic term “naiant” – see ‘naiant’.

Nyon, Switzerland
Flag of Nyon, Switzerland (fotw)

1) In traditional heraldry the alternative heraldic terms used when a charge or figure is issuing from the middle of an ordinary – but see 2) below and ‘issuant’ (also ‘ordinary’).
2) In modern heraldry the term often used when a charge or figure is emerging from the side (usually the sinister) of a shield, quarter, banner of arms or flag (see also ‘banner of arms’, ‘quarter’ and ‘sinister’).

naissant Arms of Ostrów Wielkopolski, Poland Chavannes-sur-Moudon, Switzerland
Flag of Kalbe upon Milde, Germany (fotw); Arms of Ostrów Wielkopolski, Poland (fotw); Flag of Chavannes-sur-Moudon, Switzerland (fotw)

The term for a flag or pennant that bears the name of a ship or possibly a shipping company or an institution – an onomast.

[name pennant John Gibson]
The John Gibson, Barque, Nova Scotia, 1875 (fotw)

a) The (often unofficial) practice of flying such a flag or pennant aboard ship began in the 19th Century, and could now be largely (but certainly not entirely) obsolete.
b) The practice of displaying a name pennant is continued by some universities in the US - particularly at sporting venues (see also ‘
institutional flags (unofficial)’ and ‘sports flag 2)’).

See ‘masthead pendant’.

[name pennant John Gibson]
Narrow/Masthead Pennant of Norway (fotw)

See ‘state arms’ under ‘arms’.

[national arms of Venezuela] [national arms of Zambia] [national arms of Kenya]
National Arms, Venezuela (fotw); National Arms/Presidential Flag, Zambia (fotw); National Arms, Kenya (fotw)

See ‘banner 8)’.

1) See ‘colour 2)’.
2) Where only one colour is selected (generally one appearing on the flag) to be the national colour, as in for example the Rhododendron Red of Nepal.

[national colour - US]
National Colour (Army and Air Force), US (fotw)

1) A plural form of ‘colour 2)’ (see also ‘colours 4)’).
2) Usually the two or three principal colours of a national flag - for example, the blue, white and red / red, white and blue of France and the US, or the red and white of Poland - landesfarben (see also ‘cockade’, ‘livery colours’, ‘national symbols’, ‘roundel 1)’, ‘sash 1)’ and ‘state colours 3)’).

[national colours]  [national colours]  [national colours]
Colour of the Royal Navy 1939 – 1952, UK (fotw); National Colours of the US and Poland

Please note with regard to 2) that the colours concerned need not necessarily be those of the relevant national flag, as in for example, the green chosen by Slovenia or the Australian national sporting colours of green and gold.

See ‘emblem, state, national or Royal’ under ‘emblem’.

national emblem national emblem national emblem
National Emblem of the Georgian SSR 1922 – 1990 (fotw); National Emblem of the Byelorussian SSR c1920 – 1991 (fotw); National Emblem of the Kazakhstan SSR 1937 – 1992 (fotw)

1) A flag that represents an independent state, especially a nation-state.
2) A flag of a formerly independent state or of a non-independent national group (see also ‘tribal flag’)
3) That flag which is generally thought of as representing a state when specific circumstances of display are not considered – for example, some flag books might give a plain tricolour with stars as the national flag of Venezuela, whilst others may show the flag with arms as illustrated below (see also ‘tricolour 1)’).

national flag national flag national flag
National Flag of Andorra; Former National Flag of Tibet (fotw); National/State Flag of Venezuela (fotw)

a) In some countries the national flag is available for use by all citizens. In other countries, however, the national flag is restricted to official use by law or custom, with a variant of it as a civil flag for use by private citizens.
b) The national flag may have other variants with specific uses on land and/or sea, and that these are herein listed separately according to type (see also those flags listed under ‘
ensign’, as well as ‘civil flag’, ‘jack’, ‘state flag’ and ‘war flag’).

AA decorative strip (usually placed along he hoist of a flag) intended to represent a folk or traditional element of national culture, and particularly prevalent among Eastern Slavic and Siberian states such as Belarus, Kazakhstan and Mariy El – see ‘folklore ornament/a>’.

[Kazakhstan showing national ornament] [Belarus showing national ornament] [Mariy El showing national ornament]
National Flag of Kazakhstan (fotw); National Flag of Belarus (fotw); Flag of Mariy El, Russian Federations (fotw)

See ‘wimpel 1)’.

[The National Pennant/Wimpel of Norway]
The National Pennant/Wimpel of Norway (fotw & CS)

See ‘service flag 4)’.

single star service pennant two star service pennant single gold star/two blue star service pennant
National Service/Sons in Service Flags US (fotw)

Those things, usually established by law, which have been adopted as being symbolic of a country, these may include the national flag, national coat of arms, emblem or seal, the national colours, the national anthem and possibly a plant, fruit, animal and/or a bird etc. (see also ‘national colours 2)’ and ‘state symbols 2)’).

[Jamaica - national symbol] [Jamaica - national symbol] [Jamaica - national symbol]
Some National Symbols of Jamaica: National Flag, National Arms, National Bird (fotw and Official Website)

See ‘canton flag’.

[Joint Service Flag, Jordan]
Joint Service Flag, Jordan (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘proper’.

  [arms of New York] [flag of New York]
Arms and Flag of New York, US (fotw)

A crown generally (but not exclusively) formed from the sterns and square sails of ships placed upon a circle or fillet, and loosely based on an ancient Roman triumphal ornament of the same name (see also ‘astral crown’, ‘crown 1)’, ‘mural crown 1)’ and ‘yachting crown’).

[Naval crowns]
Naval crowns (Wikipedia)

See under ‘ensign’.

[Naval ensign]  [Naval ensign]  [Naval ensign]
Naval Ensigns: Croatia, Japan and the UK (fotw)

See under ‘ensign of honour’.

[ensign of honor]
Naval Ensign of Honour, Yugoslavia 1949 – 1991 (fotw)

1) Generically any flag or pennant used in a solely naval environment.
2) Specifically flags such as jacks, masthead pennants, signal flags, rank flags and ensigns, except where the latter is also the national flag/war flag, flown exclusively by naval vessels and naval shore establishments (see also ‘jack’, ‘masthead pennant’, ‘naval ensign’ under ‘ensign’, ‘navy flag’ and ‘suit of colours’).

[Naval flag] [Naval flag] [Naval flag]
Naval Ensign of Morocco (fotw); Naval Jack of Spain (fotw); Flag of the Supreme High-commander (1950-1992), Soviet Union (fotw)

Please note that the Editors consider the generic definition in 1) as too broad to be employed with any accuracy and that the various flags/pennants listed in definition 2) and defined separately herein, should be preferred in description.

See under ‘jack’).

Naval Jack of Russia Naval Jack of Croatia Naval Jack of Cuba  
Naval Jack of Russia (fotw); Naval Jack of Croatia (fotw); Naval Jack of Cuba (fotw)

See ‘branch of service flag’ (also ‘armed services flag’ and ‘naval ensign’ under ‘ensign’).

Navy Flag, The Philippines Navy Flag, Venezuela Navy Flag, Colombia
Navy Flag, The Philippines (fotw); Navy Flag, Venezuela (fotw); Navy Flag, Colombia (fotw)

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