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Dictionary of Vexillology: P (Points - POW-MIA Flag)

Last modified: 2022-09-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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1) In British maritime (particularly RN) usage, now largely obsolete, a term sometimes applied to the fly corners of a flag or ensign (see also ‘fly 1)’)
2) The term may also be employed (either in the singular or plural as appropriate) to describe the fly of a triangular/swallow-tailed pennant, a swallow-tailed flag or one with three even tails (see also ‘pennant’, ‘swallow-tail(ed)’, ‘swallowtail and tongue’ and ‘triple-tongued 1)

Points example Points example
White Ensign c1750, UK (fotw); Flag of Banská Belá, Slovakia (fotw)

See ‘honour point’.

1) In vexillology the terms used to indicate the number of points on a star or star-like charge, for example a five-pointed star or a star of five points – but see ‘rays 1)’ (also ‘star 1)’)
2) In heraldry see ‘point-in-point’.
3) A term sometimes (incorrectly) used to describe the point of an arrow – see ‘barbed’.

Pointed example Pointed example
National Flag of Vietnam (fotw); National Arms of Spain (fotw)

The heraldic terms for when the division of a shield forms a chevron - usually embowed - at its base - pointed or enty (see also ‘base’, ‘chevron 1)’, ‘embowed’, ‘impale’, ‘quartering 1)’ and ‘shield 1)’)

Pointed example
Flag and Arms of North Rhine–Westphalia, Germany (fotw & CS)

See ‘flag pole’.

A flagpole that is straight and clear of any projections such as cross bars, yards, or gaffs (see also ‘cross bar’, ‘flag pole’, ‘gaff’ and ‘yard’).

Please note that this term was originally introduced to describe a mast or masts on those steam vessels not equipped with an auxiliary sailing rig.

Pole mast
HMS Devastation 1871 – 1908 (Wikipedia)  

A flag or ensign, different from the national/state flag or government ensign (or a variant thereof) or a pennant, which specifically identifies the installations or vessels of a country’s police service (see also ‘national flag’, ‘government ensign’ and ‘service ensign’ under ‘ensign’, and ‘state flag’).

Police flag Police flag Police flag
Police Flag, Malta (fotw); Flag of the Police Mounted Branch, Canada (fotw); Police Vessel Pennant, Thailand (fotw)

The flag, either official (formally adopted) or unofficial (spontaneously displayed by supporters), of a political party or movement  – but see ‘protest flag’ and the notes below (also ‘sash 2)’, ‘realm banner black-red-gold’ and ‘tribal flag’).

[political flags] [political flags] [political flags]
Flag of African National Congress, RSA (fotw); Flag of Međimurje Party, Croatia (fotw); Flag of Libertarian National Socialist Green Party, USA (fotw).

In both historical and/or contemporary terms, a political flag and a trade union flag can often be very closely linked – see ‘
trade union flag’.
b) Protests often have a political motivation, and therefore, the difference between this and a protest flag is often blurred.

See ‘sash 2)’.

Politica sash
Political Sash of the Women’s Suffragette Movement 1917, US

The heraldic term for a green disc (or discs) – a roundel (or roundels) vert (see also ‘bezant’, ‘hurt’, ‘plates’ and ‘roundel 3)’)

pomme pomme
Example; Flag of Uelsen, Germany (fotw)

A term sometimes used in place of the usual heraldic term pommeled to indicate the pommel of a sword or dagger – but see ‘hilted’ and following note (also ‘hafted’ and ‘shafted’).

pommed pommed
Arms of Šibenik-Knin, Croatia (fotw); Flag of Haarlem, The Netherlands (fotw)

The heraldic term for the pommel of a sword or dagger – but see ‘hilted’ and its following note.

Kalnik, Croatia Ill-Birgu, Malta Pommel
Flag of Kalnik, Croatia (fotw); Flag of Il-Birgu, Malta (fotw); Flag of Kaptol, Croatia (fotw)

Please note that a pommel is the usually (but not invariably) heavy, disk-like projection above the hilt which helps balance the blade, fixes that hilt’s binding and act as a weapon in its own right.

A heraldic term, and derived from the French porte (or door), for the entrance to a castle, tower or other building (see also ‘ajouré’ and ‘litten’).

[port example] [port example] [port example]
Flag of Aljezur, Portugal (fotw); Arms and Flag of Zagreb, Croatia (fotw)

A sliding, openwork lattice intended to defend the gateway of a fortified structure – in heraldry see ‘latticed’.

[portcullis] [portcullis]
Flag of Rogatec, Slovenia (fotw); Arms of Ljubljana, Slovenia (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘latticed’ (also ‘portcullis’).

[portcullised] [portcullised]
Flag of Wissembourg, France (fotw); Arms of Maribor, Slovenia (fotw)

See ‘dress knot’.

[dress knot]
Officer’s Port Epee/Dress Knot, USN and USCG (

The terms for a navigational chart of the 14th to the 16th Centuries, particularly showing coastlines and ports and usually bearing illustrations of their arms and flags.

[dress knot]
Portolano, Spanish c1500 (Wikipedia)

See ‘rounded cross’.

[Portuguese Templar cross] [Portuguese Templar cross]
Arms and Flag of Outeiro Major, Portugal (fotw)

The position in which the most senior flag, emblem or coat of arms – usually a national flag, emblem or coat of arms - is to be placed - sometimes called the place of honour. The particulars vary slightly in detail, legal status and extent from country to country; however, the general principles remain the same and are listed in Appendix II (see also ‘rules of etiquette’ and ‘precedence’).

Please note – not to be confused with the honour point – see ‘honour point’.

1) In US army usage, that flag which corresponds to a particular position held, rather than to the rank of the officer who currently holds it – but see ‘appointment flag’ (also ‘rank flag 1)’).
2) See ‘distinguishing flag 1)’.

[positional flag example] [positional flag example] [positional flag example]
Army Surgeon General, US (fotw); Under Secretary of the Army, US (fotw); Sergeant Major of the Army, US (fotw)


1) In US military usage, that size of national flag flown regularly over army and marine corps posts – 8.95 feet (2.72m) wide by 17 feet (5.18m) long for the army and 10 feet (3 m) wide by 19 feet (5.8 m) long for the marine corps (see also ‘garrison flag’, ‘storm flag’ and ‘war flag’).
2) See ‘postal flag’.

[current US flag] postal flag of France
National Flag of the USA (fotw); Post/Postal Flag , France (fotw)

The distinguishing flag, ensign or pennant of a country’s postal services – a mail flag/pennant or post flag/pennant (see also ‘air mail flag and ‘service ensign’ under ‘ensign’).

postal flag postal flag [postal flag - Denmark]
Postal Flag, UK (fotw); Postal Flag/Ensign 1920 – 1939, Danzig (fotw); Postal Flag/Ensign, Denmark (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘bugle horn’.

[hunting horn example] [hunting horn example]
Arms and Flag of Tychy, Poland (fotw)

See ‘Renaissance shield’.

postal office flag - Belgium
Arms of Ilok, Croatia (fotw)

See ‘postal flag’.

postal office flag - Belgium
Post Office/Postal Flag, Belgium (fotw)

See ‘postal flag’.

postal pennant - Italy
Post/Postal Pennant, Italy (fotw)

A 16th/17th Century term for the formal flag waving expected of a colour bearer for reasons of either bravado or dignity (see also ‘colour 2)’, ‘colour bearer’, ‘company colours’, ‘ensign 4)’, ‘flag tossing’, ‘pavisade’, ‘stand 1)’ and ‘streamer 2)’).

1) The heraldic term for a fur that is shown as a series of crutch-shaped charges and usually (but not exclusively) seen in blue on a white or silver field (see also ‘ermine’, ‘furs’ and ‘vair’).
2) The term may also be used when the edge of an ordinary is shown with crutch-shaped extensions – but see note below (also ‘cross potent’ and ‘ordinary’).

example  example example
Example; Flag and Arms of Unhais-o-Velho, Portugal (fotw)

Please note with regard to 2) that this term is never used alone, but always with the ordinary being blazoned, for example a fess-potent as illustrated above’.

In heraldry see ‘cross potent’.

Wielka Nieszawka arms, poland Wielka Nieszawka flag, poland
Arms and Flag of Wielka Nieszawka, Poland (fotw)

1) In vexillology a term sometimes used to describe a number of small (usually but not invariably) identical charges scattered across the field of a flag.
2) In heraldry see ‘semé’.

powdered powdered powdered
Banner of France c1150 – c1350 (fotw); Flag of Chastre, Belgium (fotw); Flag of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France (fotw)

See ‘memorial flag 2)’.

POW-MIA flag
POW-MIA Flag, US and Canada (fotw)

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