Glossary of Flag Terms

Have you ever wondered about the meaning of certain flag related terms? Well, we have put together a list to explain the most common flag industry lingo.


Appliqued - One piece of material sewn (stitched) to another as opposed to a printed or dyed design.
Canton - A rectangular or square part of a flag, usually found in the upper hoist corner.
Cleat - The device used to secure the bottom of a flagpole halyard (rope).
Color Fastness - The ability of a material to resist fading and color migration - a relative term.
Colors - A flag, ensign or standard borne in an army or fleet. A country's national flag.
Double Seal - A flag which reads correctly from both sides because a portion of the flag has another design sewn to the back side.
Double Thickness - Two single flags sewn back to back. This doubles the flag's weight and affects the flyability and wearing quality. Not recommended for use on outdoor flag poles.
Ensign - A flag, banner or standard which can show office, rank or nationality, especially of an army or ship.
Ferrule - The tubular portion of an ornament placed over the top of a pole.
Field - On a U.S. flag, the blue part.
Flash Collar - A decorative cover used at the base of an outdoor flagpole.
Fly End - The free flying end of a flag, usually opposite the heading.
FOTW - Flags Of The World mailing list and website. The finest source of vexillological information on the internet.
Fringed - A flag with decorative fringe around all or part of its perimeter.
Front - The surface seen when a flag is in its normal flying position with the hoist to the viewer's left. (The "Back" is the reverse).
Garrison Flag - A gigantic flag flown over military posts and forts. Most commonly refers to flags 8' x 12' and larger. The "Star Spangled Banner" flown over Fort McHenry in Baltimore was 30' x 42'.
Grommets - The brass rings or eyelets (normally in the heading) for mounting outdoor flags.
Halyard - The rope for an outdoor flagpole used to raise and lower the flag.
Heading - The heavy canvas or other reinforcing material at the side or end from which the flag or banner will be supported.
Hoist - The side of a flag next to the pole.
Indoor Flags - Flags constructed primarily for indoor displays or temporary outdoor parade use, with pole hem and usually fringed.
Jack - A small flag flown at the bow of a ship, usually to indicate nationality. U.S. Jack is blue with 50 white stars.
Joint - It is used to hold a two-piece flagpole together.
Outdoor Flags - Flags constructed primarily for use on outdoor flagpoles, with header and grommets or roped hoist end.
Plain - A flag without fringe.
Pole Band - The canvas heading of the flag is left open at both ends so that a staff can be passed through it.
Pole Hem - A sleeve or tunnel made of the same fabric and in same color as the background of the flag. The staff is passed through the sleeve when mounting indoor and parade flags.
Printed - A digital printing process allowing to create flags with complex designs and unlimited colors that are affordable.
Roped - A flag with a rope passing through the heading and looped / secured at each end. The halyard of the flagpole is attached to the loops. Normally used only on large outdoor flags.
Single / Reverse - A flag which reads correctly from the front and reverse from the rear.
Snap Hook - A clip used to attach a flag to the halyard (rope) on a flagpole.
Truck - The device at the top of an outdoor pole that houses the pulley wheel and to which an ornament is mounted.
Vexillology - The science of studying flags, their history, meanings and symbolisms.


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