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Dictionary of Vexillology: F (Flag Patch - Flags in Fiction)

Last modified: 2022-04-02 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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A small representation of a flag sewn or otherwise fixed onto an item of clothing, usually but not invariably on the upper sleeve, and often used by military personnel – a shoulder patch.

In largely Central European usage, a term for that person who provided funding for the production of a ceremonial flag, or is otherwise being honoured by the organization whose flag it is – but see ‘consecration’ with its following note (also ‘ceremonial flag 1)’).

See ‘lapel flag 1)’.

[flag pin] [flag pin]
Two flag pins (worldflags4u)

1) A single illustration or series of illustrations (almost invariably coloured) on a single page (or pages) which is printed separately (for reasons of production cost) and inserted into an otherwise completed book of textual information (see also ‘flag book’ and ‘flag chart’).
2) A term that may be used to describe those rigid plates that may replace the equivalent signal flags in some European regulations for inland navigation (see also ‘signal flags’).
3) See ‘rank plate’.
4) A term sometimes incorrectly used to describe a piece of tableware, often (but not invariably) produced by shipping companies, that bears the illustration of a flag.

See ‘flag salute’.

The post of wood, metal or a synthetic material upon which a flag is hoisted by means of a halyard, - a flag mast or flag staff, but see ‘outrigger pole’ (also ‘cone tapered’, ‘finial’, ‘halyard’, ‘Venetian entasis taper’ and ‘truck’).

Please note however, that the terms flag staff, flag mast and flagpole may be considered as interchangeable, but that mast and staff when used alone have specific meanings (see also ‘mast 1)’, ‘staff 1)’ and ‘staff 2)’).

The term which covers any flag suggested as an alternative to a design currently used, or one of those designs from which the choice of a new flag is to be made, or for a design that has been so proposed in the past but never accepted, (see also ‘ausflag’ and ‘flag design competition’).

flag proposal - Minnesota flag proposal - Australia flag proposal - Cyprus
Proposal for a New Flag of Minnesota, 2002, USA (fotw); Rejected Change to the National Flag of Australia, 1997 (fotw); Rejected Change to the National Flag of Cyprus, 2004 (fotw)

See ‘flag etiquette’ (also ‘Appendix II’).

See ‘flag officer’ and its following note.

Flag rank example Flag rank example Flag rank example
Rear Admiral (Upper Half), Vice Admiral and Admiral, South Korea (fotw)

See ‘vexillology’.

A term for the occasional practice of creating (or illustrating) a sail in the form of an appropriate national (or possibly provincial) flag or ensign (see also ‘armorial sail’).

Flag sail example
The National Flag of Canada as a square sail (Željko Heimer)

Please note that this term has been introduced by the Editors as no established alternative could be found.

1) An oath of allegiance through a ceremony involving the national flag – flag pledge. Flag salutes are required of military personnel in most countries, but when done by civilians, it is usually (but not invariably) out of custom.
2) A term also sometimes used to indicate a salute made with a flag – as in for example - a merchant vessel dipping its flag to a warship (see also ‘dipping’).
3) See ‘salute to the flag’.

See 'signal hoist'.

[colour belt example] [colour belt example] [colour belt example]
US4 (Uniform-Sierra-4) in The International Code of Signal Flags or “nothing can be done until the weather moderates” (fotw)

See 'flag belt'.

[colour belt example]
Flag Sling/Belt According to Spanish Regulations (Reglamento de Banderas Actualizado)

In largely (but not exclusively) US usage a metal implement designed to ensure that an indoor flag is properly displayed when hung from a vertical, freestanding pole (see also ‘indoor flag’ and ‘tangle rod’).

[flag spreader example]

See ‘flagpole’ (also ‘mast 1)’, ‘staff 1)’, and ‘staff 2)’).

Please note that the terms flagstaff, flag mast and flagpole may be considered as interchangeable, but that mast and staff when used alone have specific meanings.

The country in which a vessel or aircraft is registered, documented or licensed, and whose flag it is entitled to display.

See ‘vexillology’.

A sport and folk custom, particularly of Italy and Switzerland, in which flags are twirled and tossed in the air – a survival and extension of the standard 17th Century military practice of postures – see ‘postures’ (also ‘palio’).

Please note that an (as far is known) unrelated local ceremony of flourishing flags, called casting the colours, occurs annually in Selkirk, Scotland.

Use of the national flag, literally or figuratively to justify actions or principles, or to excite patriotic fervour.

See ‘width 1)’.

[flag height]

The term sometimes used to describe a miniature flag - but see ‘car flag’, ‘handwaver’ and ‘table flag’.

Please note that the Editors consider this term too generic to be useful, and that the more precise descriptions given above are to be preferred in description.

A term that may be used to describe the illustration of a flag, or of a flag-like object, which is not intended to represent any flag in actual use, but which has the backing of some credible source and/or which employs a widely recognized emblem as part of its design – but see ‘fictional flag’ and ‘fictitious flag’. 

[flagoid example]
The Arms of Hidalgo, Mexico (fotw)

Please note that an example would be the official coat of arms of the Mexican province of Hidalgo (as illustrated above), which includes the national flag of Mexico and a flagoid (a non-existent blue rectangular version of the Guadeloupe processional banner known to have been in use c1810).

A direct translation of the Dutch term vlaggestokwimpel) - see ‘wimpel 1)’ and ‘wimpel 2)’ (also ‘pennant’).

[flagpole pennnant]
Royal Wimpel, The Netherlands

1) In US naval usage, a traditional nickname for signalmen whose duties include the display and care of signal flags and ensigns – but see ‘bunting tosser’ (also ‘flag bag’ and ‘yeoman of signals’).
2) In British Royal Navy and some other usage, a traditional nickname for the flag lieutenant – see ‘flag lieutenant’.

The phrase used to describe an illustrated list of distinguishing flags or pennants as detailed in ‘house flag 1)’, and the sometimes matching funnel liveries shown by ships of that company.

flag - Hawkes Bay H.B. 1986, New Zealand funnel - Hawkes Bay H.B. 1986, New Zealand flag - Luigi Pittaluga 1940 funnel - Luigi Pittaluga 1940 flag - Giovanni Gavarone 1940 funnel - Giovanni Gavarone 1940 
House Flags and Funnels: Hawkes Bay H.B. 1986, New Zeeland (CS); Luigi Pittaluga 1940, Italy (CS); James Deane and Co., Australia 1885 (CS)

See ‘victory markings’).

 Victory Markings
An Aircraft of WWII showing Victory Markings (

A naval vessel flying the flag of a flag officer (see also ‘flag captain’, ‘flag lieutenant’, ‘flag of command 1)’ and ‘flag officer’).

flagship flagship
HMS Iron Duke wearing the Flag of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe 1915, UK (wiki); Sir John’s Command Flag (fotw)

Please note that in British RN and some other usages, a naval vessel in commission which could, but does not carry an officer described above is termed a ‘private ship’ (see also ‘command pennant’, ‘masthead pennant 1)’ and ‘private ship’).

See ‘fictional flag’ and ‘fictitious flag’.

flags in fiction flags in fiction
Flag of San Carlo from the Film Princess Protection Program (fotw); Spurious Soviet Naval Flag from the Film K19 (fotw)

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