This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Dictionary of Vexillology: A (Aquila - Arrondissement Flags)

Last modified: 2013-05-20 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | random flag | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

On this page:

See ‘eagle 2)’.

Aquila/Eagle Standard of a Roman Legion (

See ‘coronet 2)’.

archducal bonnet archducal bonnet
State Service Flag and Arms of Salzburg, Austria ensigned with an Arch-Ducal Bonnet

The heraldic term sometimes used in place of embowed when describing an ordinary that is bowed or bent – enarched - see ‘embowed’ (also ‘ordinary’).

Flag of Pleujouse, Switzerland (fotw)

See ‘cross of Lorraine’.

An honorary title, now obsolete, for the chief standard or flag bearer to the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire (see also ‘archivexillum’ and following note), and ‘gonfaloniership’).

A recently redefined term now intended to cover a flag design that is established or recommended by authority, and upon which other flags (adapted as required) may be based – a template flag. A typical example is the British blue ensign that acts as a basic template for other government flags, and for the flags of most British Overseas Territories (see also ‘archivexillifer’, ‘armorial ensign’, ‘colonial flags’, ‘blue ensign’). ‘defaced’, ‘core flag’, ‘undefaced’ and ‘warrant’).

[archivexillum example] [archivexillum example] [archivexillum example] [archivexillum example]
From left: UK Blue Ensign (Graham Bartram), UK Customs Ensign (Graham Bartram), UK Fleet Auxiliary Ensign (Graham Bartram); Flag of Tristan da Cunha (Graham Bartram)

Please note that the word appears in a 19th Century German etymological dictionary as the origin of the term erzbanner (that may be translated as chief or imperial banner) but – with the exception of a possible relationship to the term archivexillifer - this is otherwise unsupported by further sources.

See 'inflamed'.

[Velika Ludina] [Velika Ludina]
Flag and Arms of Velika Ludina, Croatia (fotw)

A heraldic term for the metal silver, it is generally shown as white in flags, but occasionally as grey, sometimes as silver leaf or metallic paint, or in an embroidered design, as silver thread (see 'Appendix III', 'embroider', and 'rule of tincture').

[colour example]

See ‘badge 3)’ and ‘regimental colours 2)’ (also ‘military crest’).

1) In vexillology see ‘armoured’.
2) In heraldry a term used when the claws, teeth talons and sometimes the beak of a beast or bird of prey are shown in a different tincture to the body (see also ‘appendix V’, ‘attired’, ‘beaked’, ‘langued’, ‘gorged’, ‘harnysed’, ‘jelloped’, ‘membered’ and ‘tincture’).

Flanders, Belgium
Flag of Flanders, Belgium (fotw)

A generic term for any flag that pertains to, or represents a branch of the armed services, or a unit within that branch

Please note however, that the various types of flags used by the armed services – for example an appointment flag, branch of service flag, camp flag, colour, flag of command, guidon, positional or rank flag – are separately defined herein and are, we suggest, to be preferred in description.

See ‘canting’.

(adj) Possessing or showing a coat of arms (see also 'armorial bearings').

See ‘banner 1)’.

[Aleksandrów Kujawski] [Aleksandrów Kujawski]
Flag and Arms of Aleksandrów Kujawski, Poland (fotw)

All the armorial insignia to which an individual or family, a corporate institution such as a nation, province or municipality, or a commercial enterprise are entitled – an achievement of arms or complete (armorial) achievement or establishment of arms – but see note below for further details (also ‘greater arms’ and ‘state arms 2)’ under ‘arms’, ‘blazon’, ‘coat of arms 1’), ‘quarters’, ‘quartering’ and ‘quarterly’).

armorial bearings
The Armorial Bearings of HM Queen Elizabeth II (for use in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), UK (Graham Bartram)

Please note, however, that (as is shown above) a full set of armorial bearings can include (for example) shield, supporters, helmet, torse, crest, collar, mantling, compartment, motto etc., and whilst many of the terms used are illustrated in Appendix IV and/or briefly defined herein, it is suggested that a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted for full details.

A newly introduced term that is intended to cover a British or British-style ensign (or a canton flag) whose fly is defaced with a set of armorial bearings or the escutcheon therefrom (see also ‘archivexillum’, ‘armorial bearings’, ‘blue ensign’, ‘canton flag’, ‘escutcheon’, ‘government ensign’ under ‘ensign’ and ‘red ensign’).

Fiji Jersey British Antarctic Territory Mauritius civil ensign
From left: National Flag of Fiji (fotw); Government Ensign of Jersey (fotw); Flag of British Antarctic Territories (fotw); Civil Ensign of Mauritius (fotw)

1) Generically, a term that covers any flag showing all or part of an entity’s armorial bearings against a field of any description (see also ‘armorial bearings’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’).
2) Specifically, a term that covers any flag whose main charge is a set of armorial bearings or a part thereof, and which is set against either livery colours or a plain field – but see ‘ensign banner’ (also ‘charge 2)’, ‘livery colours’ and ‘plain 2)’ and ‘seal flag’).

[New Jersey, US] Melres, Portugal Yukon Territory, Canada [Bibinje, Croatia] [Galicia, Spain]
From left: Flag of New Jersey, USA (fotw); Flag of Melres, Portugal (fotw); Flag of The Yukon, Canada (fotw); Flag of Bibinje, Croatia fotw); Flag of Galicia, Spain (fotw)

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

A term for the largely (but not entirely) obsolete practice of having all or a part of a coat of arms displayed on a vessel’s sail (see also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms’ and ‘flag sail’).

armorial sail
NCO Naval School, Colombia (Eugene Ipavec)

1) In vexillology a term that may be used when a human figure, or any part thereof, is clad in armour - but see ‘harnysed’ and ‘vambraced’.

Isle of Man Navy Jack - Poland Dithmarschen, Germany
From left: Flag of the Isle of Man, UK (fotw); Navy Jack of Poland (fotw); Flag of Dithmarschen, Germany (fotw)

Please note that the heraldic term for being clad in armour is “harnysed” (harnessed), or in the case of the arm only “vambraced”.

See ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms’ and ‘shield’ , together with ‘greater arms’, ‘lesser arms’, ‘middle arms’ and ‘state arms’ below (also ‘civic arms’ and ‘flag arms’).
Greater Arms
In largely northern European usage, an official description for the full set of armorial bearings of a nation or province – but see ‘middle arms’, ‘lesser arms’ and ‘state arms 2)’ (also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms 1)’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’)

greater arms of Bremen greater arms of Sweden
Greater Arms of Bremen, Germany and of Sweden (fotw)

Lesser Arms
In largely northern European usage, the most simplified form in which the set of armorial bearings of a nation or province may be officially shown – but see ‘greater arms, ‘middle arms’ and ‘state arms 1)’ (also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms 1)’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’)

lesser arms of Bremen lesser arms of Sweden
Lesser Arms of Bremen, Germany and of Sweden (fotw)

Middle Arms
In largely northern European usage, a simplified form in which the set of armorial bearings of a nation or province may be officially shown – but see ‘greater arms’, ‘lesser arms’ and ‘state arms 1)’ (also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms 1)’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’)

lesser arms of Bremen
Middle Arms of Bremen, Germany (fotw)

State Arms (or Coat of Arms)
1) Generically any coat of arms or emblem that is considered representative of a nation or of a nation state – the national arms (see also ‘lesser arms’ and ‘middle arms’, ‘coat of arms 1)’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’ and ‘emblem, state or national’).
2) Specifically the establishment of arms that officially represents a nation state, as opposed to any part (or parts) therefrom, or those of the relevant head of state or of any variation which may appear on a flag (see also ‘establishment of arms’, ‘flag arms’ and ‘greater arms’).
3) The term may also be used to describe the arms of a sub-national division within a nation, particularly if that division is called a “state” – the provincial, cantonal or territorial arms and similar (see also ‘state flag 2)’).

US arms  NJ arms
National Arms of the United States (fotw); Arms of the State of New Jersey, US (fotw)

In British Army usage and some others, the term for an ensign (different from the branch of service flag) that is flown at sea by army vessels (see also ‘branch of service flag’ and ‘government ensign’ under ‘ensign’).

UK army ensign
Army Ensign, UK (fotw)

See ‘branch of service flag’ (also ‘armed services flag’).

Belgium army flag India army flag
Army Flag, Belgium (fotw)

; Army Flag, India (fotw)
See ‘registration flags’.

Arrondissement flag
Arrondissement Flag, One Department of Lorient, France (fotw)

Introduction | Table of Contents | Index of Terms | Previous Page | Next Page