Ensign


Ensign

An ensign is a national flag when used at sea, in vexillology, or a distinguishing token, emblem, or badge, such as a symbol of office in heraldry. The word has also given rise to the military rank of "ensign", a rank of junior officer once responsible for bearing the ensign.

The word is derived from the Latin plural insignia.

National ensigns

In nautical use, the ensign is flown at the stern of a ship or boat to indicate its nationality. Ensigns may also be flown from the gaff of a ship, and may be shifted to a yardarm when the ship is under way, where it is known as a steaming ensign. Vexillologists distinguish three varieties of a national flag when used as an ensign:

  • A Civil ensign (usage symbol FIAV 000100.svg) is worn by merchant and pleasure vessels.
  • A State ensign or Government ensign (usage symbol FIAV 000010.svg) is worn by government vessels, such as coast guard ships.
  • A naval ensign (usage symbol FIAV 000001.svg) is used by a country's navy.

Many countries do not distinguish between these uses, and employ only one national flag and ensign in all cases. Others (like the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan) use different ensigns. Such ensigns are strictly regulated and indicate if the boat is a warship, a merchant vessel or a yacht, for example.

If a warship goes into battle, large versions of naval ensigns (called battle ensigns) are used.

Heraldic ensigns

In heraldry, an ensign is the ornament or sign, such as the crown, coronet, or mitre, borne above the charge or arms.

Air ensigns

With the creation of independent air forces and the growth in civil aviation in the first half of the 20th century, a range of distinguishing flags and ensigns were adopted. Such ensigns may be divided into air force ensigns (such as the Royal Air Force Ensign) and civil air ensigns. Air ensigns are often light blue in colour.


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  • Ensign — ist der Name für: eine Gösch (Seefahrt), ein besonderes Symbol, Emblem, Kennzeichen oder eine Flagge ein Fähnrich, ein niedriger Offizierdienstgrad Ensign (Band), US amerikanische Hardcore Punk Band Ensign Racing, ein ehemaliges Formel 1 Team,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • ensign — en sign ([e^]n s[i^]n also [e^]n s[imac]n, except for 4a), n. [L. enseigne, L. insignia, pl. of insigne a distinctive mark, badge, flag; in + signum mark, sign. See {Sign}, and cf. {Insignia}, 3d {Ancient}.] 1. A flag; a banner; a standard; esp …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ensign Ro — may refer to:* Ensign Ro ( TNG episode), a fifth season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation * Ensign Ro Laren, a recurring character on Star Trek: The Next Generation …   Wikipedia

  • Ensign — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Ensign fue un constructor británico de autos Fórmula Uno. Participaron en 133 Grandes Premios, con un total de 155 autos. Lograron 19 puntos de Campeonato y no consiguieron llegar a un podio. El mejor resultado fue… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Ensign — Ensign, KS U.S. city in Kansas Population (2000): 203 Housing Units (2000): 77 Land area (2000): 0.279189 sq. miles (0.723096 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.279189 sq. miles (0.723096 sq. km)… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Ensign, KS — U.S. city in Kansas Population (2000): 203 Housing Units (2000): 77 Land area (2000): 0.279189 sq. miles (0.723096 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.279189 sq. miles (0.723096 sq. km) FIPS code:… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Ensign — En sign, v. t. 1. To designate as by an ensign. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Henry but joined the roses that ensigned Particular families. B. Jonson. [1913 Webster] 2. To distinguish by a mark or ornament; esp. (Her.), by a crown; thus, any charge which …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ensign — [en′sīn΄; ] also, & for 4 always [, en′sən] n. [ME & OFr enseigne < L insignia: see INSIGNIA] 1. a badge, symbol, or token of office or authority 2. a flag or banner; specif., a national flag, as one displayed on a ship [Historical] 3. Brit.… …   English World dictionary

  • ensign — index device (distinguishing mark), indicant, indicator, symbol Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Ensign — fue un constructor británico de autos Fórmula Uno. Participaron en 133 Grandes Premios, con un total de 155 autos. Lograron 19 puntos de Campeonato …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • ensign — late 14c., via Scottish, from O.Fr. enseigne (12c.) mark, symbol, signal; flag, standard, pennant, from L. insignia (pl.) (see INSIGNIA (Cf. insignia)). Sense of banner, flag is c.1400; that of soldier who carries one is first recorded 1510s. U.S …   Etymology dictionary


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