AskDefine | Define ensigns

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  1. Plural of ensign

Extensive Definition

An ensign is a distinguishing flag of a ship or a military unit; or a distinguishing token, emblem, or badge, such as a symbol of office. The word has also given rise to the military rank of "ensign", a rank of junior officer once responsible for bearing the ensign of his unit.
The word is derived from the French enseigne from the Latin plural insignia and is more particularly used for a military or naval standard or banner. An armorial ensign applies specifically to heraldic symbols of an army.

Maritime ensigns

In nautical use, an ensign in the form of a flag is usually 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 underway, where it is known as a steaming ensign. Vexillologists distinguish three varieties of a national flag when used as an ensign:
ensigns in Modern Greek (1453-): Σημαία πλοίου
ensigns in Spanish: Pabellón nacional
ensigns in Japanese: 軍艦旗
ensigns in Dutch: Vaandel
ensigns in Polish: Bandera
ensigns in Swedish: Örlogsflagga
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