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See also: Ensign


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From Old French enseigne < Latin īnsignia, nominative plural of īnsigne.



ensign (plural ensigns)

  1. A badge of office, rank, or power.
    • Edmund Waller (1606-1687)
      The ensigns of our power about we bear.
  2. The lowest grade of commissioned officer in the United States Navy, junior to a lieutenant junior grade.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 10, in The Celebrity:
      The skipper Mr. Cooke had hired at Far Harbor was a God-fearing man with a luke warm interest in his new billet and employer, and had only been prevailed upon to take charge of the yacht after the offer of an emolument equal to half a year's sea pay of an ensign in the navy.
  3. A flag or banner carried by military units. See standard, color, colour.
  4. (nautical) The principal flag or banner flown by a ship to indicate nationality.
  5. A junior commissioned officer in the 18th and 19th Centuries whose duty was to carry the unit's ensign.
  6. A prominent flag or banner.


(junior commissioned officer):

  • coronet (cavalry equivalent of the infantry ensign)
  • second lieutenant (OF-1), first NATO commissioned officer grade above OF-0 trainee officer



ensign (third-person singular simple present ensigns, present participle ensigning, simple past and past participle ensigned)

  1. (obsolete) To designate as by an ensign.
    • (Can we date this quote?), Ben Jonson, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      Henry but joined the roses that ensigned Particular families.
  2. To distinguish by a mark or ornament
  3. (heraldry) To distinguish by an ornament, especially by a crown.
    Any charge which has a crown immediately above or upon it, is said to be ensigned.