- The description, either oral or written, of an armorial banner, set of armorial
bearings or a shield from those arms, given according to heraldic conventions
Please note however, that the term and its use should
apply only to heraldic symbolism, and be employed in vexillology solely in that
- (v) The act of describing heraldic symbolism as defined in blazon.
- BLOODY FLAG (or COLOURS)
- 1) See flag of defiance.
- 2) See red flag 2).
- BLUE ENSIGN
- 1) In English then British usage, the ensign worn (undefaced) by those merchant
vessels commanded by an officer of the Royal Naval Reserve but see note
red ensign 1),
white ensign and
yacht ensign under
- 2) Generically, any canton flag (either plain or defaced) with a blue field particularly
(but not exclusively) if flown at sea a British-style ensign (see also
canton flag 1),
red ensign 2)).
From left: Blue ensign c1630 1707, England (fotw); Reserve Ensign, UK (fotw); Reserve Ensign. Sri Lanka (fotw); Government Ensign, Mauritius (fotw)
Please note that the blue ensign is also used either plain or
defaced as the ensign of many British yacht clubs, as an archivexillum (or template) for the
flags of Government departments and with two exceptions - of British Overseas Territories
Ensign of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, UK (Graham Bartram)
- BLUE PETER
- A blue flag with a white panel in the centre, flown alone whilst in harbour to signify
that all persons should report on board as the vessel is ready to proceed to sea - now also
Papa in the International Code of Signals, but in use (with the same or similar meaning)
since the 1750s (see also
International Code of Signal Flags and
Signal Flag Papa (CS)
- BLUE STAR BANNER
- See service flag 3).
- BOAT ENSIGN
- 1) A small ensign (usually storm ensign size) used on ship's boats for identification
when more than one nation's naval vessels are present in an anchorage (see also
'storm flag 2)').
- 2) See boat flag 1) below.
Please note with regards to 1) that the ship's boats of naval vessels
would not normally wear ensigns when operating in an anchorage if no foreign ships
- BOAT FLAG
- 1) In US naval usage, a small national ensign of modified design (with 13
stars rather than the number on the normal U.S. ensign) formerly flown on small
boats and submarines.
- 2) In US army usage, that version of a positional or rank flag intended to be flown on boats,
or sometimes in front of that officer's headquarters (see also
'positional flag' and
- 3) In British RN usage, that version of a flag of command or broad pennant which was originally
for use only in boats, but from which the current versions of those flags are derived
(see also barge flag,
'flag of command',
'broad pennant' and
Late 19th Early 20th Century, US; Rear Admiral from 1864, UK (fotw)
- See ogival.
- BOB (or BOB-FLY)
- In UK usage, the term for a small flag or pennant flown from the topmast truck
of a sailing barge, bearing the owners logo and/or colours, and used to indicate
wind direction a bob-fly or Kent vane-fly
(see also colours 6),
house flag 1), logo,
main, truck 1),
vane 1) and vane 2)).
Bob of the Thames Barge Sailing Trust, UK (CS)
- (v) A practice, now largely obsolete, of edging a flag in a different colour
than the field, either for decorative purposes or to prevent fraying.
- The term for a (comparatively) wide band surrounding a field of a different colour, which may consist
of one colour - either plain or have charges placed upon it - or may be made up of two or more colours in
a variety of designs a bordure (see also flammulets,
plain 2) and
From left: National Flag of Maldives (fotw); National Flag of
Grenada (fotw); Royal Standard of Bulgaria 190844 (fotw)
Please note - not to be confused with a fimbriation
which is invariably plain and whose sole purpose is to divide one colour from
another (see also charge,
rule of tincture).
- The heraldic term for a border (see also
cadency, mark of).
- BOW FLAG
- See jack (also bow pennant below).
- BOW PENNANT
- A small triangular flag flown at the bow of pleasure craft, often facetious,
but sometimes a personal flag (see also
personal flag 3)).
- BRACED (or BRASED)
- See interlaced.
- See Appendix VI.
- BRAG FLAGS
- In largely US usage, the colloquial term for a collection of local flags,
often (but not invariably) unofficial flags, that has been amassed by the owners
of pleasure vessels to indicate the number of ports visited a type of
- BRANCH OF SERVICE FLAG
- 1) Generically, one of those flags pertaining to a particular branch within the armed services
- an air force flag, army flag, navy flag, flag of the marine corps or similar
(see also armed services flag).
- 2) Specifically in US military usage, as above but the term may also include the flags of each
specialization within a particular branch for example the flag of the Engineering Corps.
From left: Air Force Flag, RSA (fotw); Army Flag, UK (Graham
Bartram); Navy Flag, US (fotw)
- 1) Generically see width.
- 2) Specifically in now largely obsolete British Royal Navy usage, a term for indicating
the width of flags. The term is derived from the width of bunting formerly employed
in manufacture, with the width of flags being expressed as a multiple of the number
of breadths used (see also bunting 2).
Please note that the width of a breadth was recorded
as being 11 (27.94cm) in 1687, but had shrunk to its present size of 9 (22.84
cm) by the end of the 18th. century.
- BREAK (or BREAK OUT) A FLAG
- (v) To unfurl a flag that has been hoisted folded and rolled up in such a
manner that a sharp tug at the halyard will cause it to fly free (see also
- BRITISH-STYLE ENSIGN
- See blue ensign 2),
red ensign 2) and
white ensign 2)
National Flag of Australia (fotw): Civil Ensign of New Zealand (fotw); Naval Ensign of India 1950 - 2001 (fotw)
- BRITISH COLOUR CODES (BRITISH COLOUR COUNCIL REFERENCE CODE or BCC)
- A now largely obsolete standard numeral colour code for cloth and flags established by Britain,
and first published in 1934 (see also Pantone Matching System).
- BRITISH (or BRITAIN) FLAG
- The original name for the 1606 pattern British union flag - but see
His Majestys Jack (also
James Union and
Please note, evidence suggests that these terms ceased in official use after 1639.
- BROAD COMMAND PENNANT
- See burgee command pennant.
- BROAD PENNANT (or PENDANT)
- 1) Generically, a shorter and broader form of the masthead pennant, the
fly of which is cut into a swallowtail.
- 2) Specifically in British RN and some other usage, a pennant as in 1)
above that is flown at the main masthead in place of the commissioning (or
masthead) pennant to indicate the presence on board of an officer with the
rank of Commodore (see
burgee command pennant,
flag of command and
masthead pennant 1)).
- 3) In civil maritime usage, as 1) above (and often patterned after the
relevant club burgee), a broad pennant is sometimes flown by the commodore of
a yacht or boating club (see also burgee,
- 4) As 1) above, but sometimes with rounded points (or a lanceolate fly)
and flown from the main masthead to mark the presence aboard ship of a head of
state (see also lanceolate).
Flag of Ohio, US (fotw);
Commodores Broad Pennant, UK (fotw); Commodores Broad Pennant, Norway (fotw)
Please note, that in the US Navy and some others the rank of commodore
- to which the broad pennant belongs - has been superseded by that of rear admiral
(lower half) and the pennant accordingly replaced by an appropriate flag of command
(see also flag of command 1) and
Former Commodores Broad Pennant, US (CS)
- A Scottish term, now obsolete, for a flag hanging from a crossbar a gonfalon
- BROKEN CROSS
- See swastika
- A heraldic term for the colour brown (see also Appendix III
and rule of tincture).
- BUDGEE JACK
- See privateer jack, and for background on the term see also
budgee flag and budgee pendant
- BUDGEE FLAG
- A late 17th, early 18th Century English/UK naval term, now obsolete, for an
ensign that bore a union flag canton rather than a canton with the cross of St
George, and before 1707 for use only outside home waters (see also
below, privateer jack and ensign 1)).
English Red Ensign c1625 1707 Budgee Flag for
use outside home waters until 1707, then British Red Ensign 1707 1801 (CS)
- BUDGEE PENDANT (or PENNANT)
- A late 17th, early 18th Century English/UK naval term, now obsolete, for a
red swallow-tailed pennant which bore a union flag rather than the cross of St
George at its hoist for use as a pennant of distinction by senior captains in
command of a formation of ships outside home waters a union pendant (see also
pendant of distinction,
union jack and
The Budgee Pendant c1700, UK (CS)
Please note that as far as is known the budgee pendant
had disappeared by 1710, and that the Editors whilst no firm evidence could be
found - have taken the colour of the pendants fly from that of the standard
distinction pennant as introduced in 1674.
- BUILDING SITE FLAG (or BSF)
- See logo on a bed sheet.
- In largely (but not exclusively) US usage, a term for that shade of beige, which corresponds
to uniform facings worn during the American War of Independence by some general officers and
by many line regiments of the Continental infantry.
Uniform of 1776: Flag of Winchester, Virginia, US (fotw); Flag of New Jersey, US (fotw)
Please note, it is suggested that use of the facings mentioned
above could have derived from the buff-coloured (leather) coats worn by both infantry and
cavalry in the 17th Century.
- BULLOCK PENNANT
- In 18th Century French naval usage the term, now obsolete, for a red pennant
hoisted from the flagship to signal that a ration bullock had just been slaughtered
(see also beef pennant,
Please note, information suggests that this term -
a direct translation of the French "flamme de boeuf" - may have ceased after 1792,
however, this is not certain and no equivalent signal can be found in contemporary
British naval sources. Nonetheless supply vessels carrying beef to the Royal Navy
are known to have flown a blue flag bearing a white bullock in the late 19th Century.
- 1) Strong, loosely woven cloth used for making flags, originally of cotton
and/or wool but sometimes of other fibres, and now largely replaced by synthetic
- 2) A series of small, simple flags connected by a line, or a length of gathered
decorative fabric, generally in the national colours and usually hung or draped
between two anchor points. Often employed when flag usage would be inappropriate
or unsuitable (see also fan,
national colours and
rules of respect).
- BUNTING TOSSER (or BUNTS)
- In British Royal Navy usage and some others, a traditional nickname for those sailors
in the signals branch whose duties include the care and hoisting of signal flags, flags
of command and ensigns etc. - but see flags 1)
(also command pennant,
flag of command, flag,
naval ensign under ensign,
yeoman of signals).
- 1) The small distinguishing flag of a yacht or boating club, usually (but
not exclusively) either triangular or in the shape of a tapered swallowtail (see
also swallow-tail(ed) and souvenir flags).
- 2) In obsolete naval usage, a term sometimes applied to the swallow-tailed
pennants used in flag signalling (see also
international code of signals,
signal flag and
From lef: Encinal Yacht Club USA (fotw); Parkstone Yacht Club
UK (Bartram); Knysna Yacht Club RSA (fotw)
Please note, it is suggested by some sources that
the term derives from budgee which it is proposed was an alternative 17th Century
name for bunting (see also budgee flag and
- BURGEE COMMAND PENNANT
- In US naval usage, a pennant that is flown at the main masthead in place of
the commission (or masthead) pennant to indicate the presence on board of an officer
in command of a formation of vessels (or an aircraft wing), but who holds the
rank of captain or lower (see also broad pennant,
'flag of command' and
Burgee Command Pennant, US (CS)
Please note however, that the US practice of displacing
the commission (or masthead) pennant by the burgee or the broad command pennants
differs from general naval practice where the various command pennants (excepting
the broad pennant) are usually (but not invariably) flown in addition and subordinate
to the masthead pennant.
- BURIAL FLAG
- See pall flag.
- (v) In Scottish usage a term to describe the decoration of a finial with