Flag & Flagpole Glossary

BLADE FLAGS:  Blade flags are shaped nearly identical to Quill Flags but feature a slightly different hardware set that is more durable.

BURGEE: A flag shape that tapers along the length of the flag and ends with a swallow tail used especially by ships for signals or identification.

BUTT DIAMETER: The diameter at the base of the flagpole.  One of the contributing factors to a flagpole's strength and wind rating.

CANTON: (also known as “Field” or “Jack”): any quarter of a flag, but commonly means the upper hoist (left) quarter, such as the field of stars in the flag of the United States or the Union Flag in the Australian Flag.

CODE/SIGNAL FLAGS:  International Code of Signals are a series of 26 flags and 13 pennants each of which represents a specific letter or number.  These were once used at sea for communicating with other vessels.  Many of the individual flags have common meanings as well as represent the individual letter.  Combinations of the flags were used to aide in communicating from a distance at sea.

CORD & TASSEL:  The cord & tassel are decorative accessories that adorn formal indoor presentation flag sets.  They are made with twisted rayon or polyester and feature a bell shaped tassel at the end.  They are most commonly golden yellow.

COUNTERBALANCED FLAGPOLE:  This flagpole is manufactured with weights built in a box near the base of the flagpole and a hinged type mounting system a few feet up the pole.  This attachments allows the pole to be lowered for maintenance operations.

CLEAT:  The device used to secure the bottom of the flagpole halyard.

DOUBLE SIDED:  Double sided refers to a custom flag that is produced such that the emblem/logo/text reads correctly from both sides of the flag or banner.  This is achieved by printing two flags and sewing them back to back with a liner.  Double sided flags are extremely heavy and don't fly or wear as well as traditional single reverse style flags.

EMBLEM: (or “Charge”):  A device often used as an emblem on a flag. It may be heraldic in origin or modern. For example, the maple leaf on the Canadian Flag.

EXTERNAL HALYARD:  This refers to the rope system used to raise and lower the flag being on the outside of the flagpole.

FEATHER DANCER FLAGS:  Tall flags with a widened bottom. They have a straight left edge and a flowing, contoured outer edge that flies gently in the lightest of breezes. The Feather Dancer Flags are unique in that they also have dancing streamer attachments that come with the sets to add extra movement and visibility to the flag.

FEATHER FLAGS:  Tall and slender flags that have a straight left edge with a flowing, contoured outer edge to maximize movement in the lightest of breeze and generate attention. Feather flags have a pole sleeve on the straight side that is sewn closed at the top. The pole on a feather flag is vertical and does not have a bend at the top. A variety of pole options are available.

FIELD:  The background of a flag; the color behind the charge or emblem.

FIMBRIATION:  A narrow edging or border, often in white or gold, on a flag to separate two other colors. As on the state flag of Mississippi.

FINIAL:  A decorative top for a flagpole. Can be referred to as an ornament, often an eagle, spear or ball.

FINISH:  The finish is the surface appearance or texture of the flagpole.  This may also include the color:  satin, bronze, black, powder coated, etc...

FLAG FASTENERS:  Hardware that attaches flags to small poles without the use of a halyard. Most often found in Flag Sets sold for homeowners.

FLASH COLLAR:  The flash collar fits over the ground sleeve and the bottom of the pole to protect it and also provides a decorative and finished look to the base of the flagpole.  The gap between the pole and the collar should be sealed with caulk to ensure that water runs away from the base of the pole and the flagpole foundation.

FLY END (or “Length”):  The half or edge of a flag farthest away from the flagpole. This term also sometimes refers to the horizontal length of a flag.

GAFF:  The gaff is an extension off of a nautical pole that typically comes off the front of the pole and goes up at an angle.

GRAVE MARKER FLAG:  A grave marker flag is a 12" x 18" US mounted stick flag that is either placed into the ground or in a grave marker holder to mark the grave sites of service members.

GROMMET:  A brass ring or eyelet usually in the heading for mounting outdoor flags.

GROUND SLEEVE:  The ground sleeve (foundation sleeve) is constructed of galvanized corrugated steel with a steel base plate on larger poles and PVC for smaller poles.  The sleeve is the part that goes down into the ground and receives the pole.  You concrete around the outside of the sleeve and fill the gap between the pole and the sleeve with dry, packed play sand.

GUIDON:  A flag shape that ends with a swallow tail.  Typically used for military applications as a unit marker.

HALYARD:  Also called rope, line or cord. Used to raise the flag and secure it to the flagpole. May be external or internal.

HEADING:  The heavy fabric part of a flag that is used to secure the flag to the halyard (or other means of connecting to the pole). It is usually made of a durable canvas duck, woven from a natural or synthetic fabric.

HOIST (”End” or “Width”):  The edge of a flag nearest to the flagpole. This term also sometimes refers to the vertical width of a flag.

INTERNAL HALYARD FLAGPOLE:  The rope or cable system that manages the flag is concealed inside the flagpole.  The halyard is accessed through a hinged door and the halyard is secured either with a winch (for cable) or a cam cleat (for rope).

NAUTICAL FLAGPOLE:  A nautical flagpole generally references a flagpole with a yardarm (and/or a gaff) that is installed around water.

OUTRIGGER:  An external halyard flagpole that is mounted to the side of a building and the pole extends out at an angle.

PENNANT:  Triangular flag that tapers to a point and is typically used for identification or signaling.

POLE SLEEVE (or “Pole Hem”):  A type of heading that uses the base fabric of the flag to construct a sleeve that usually slides over a pole with a tab to attach near the top. Generally speaking Pole Sleeves are not lined for outdoor flags or banners and Pole Hems are lined with flannel or other fabric when used on Indoor and Parade flags.

QUILL FLAGS:  Tall and narrow flags that have a contoured top that keeps the message open even without wind. They have straight left and right edges with the rounded top and angled bottom. The quill flags require the quill flag hardware set to help create the shape of the flag.

RASTER ARTWORK:  Are art files that are not created in line drawing form but are instead made up of pixels.  These are most commonly .jpeg, .bmp, .gif files.  Photographs are another example of raster art.  With raster art, the image can only be scaled up to the limitations of the resolution of the original file.  For instance, if you take a photograph and enlarge beyond it's optimal resolution, the photograph will become very grainy and pixelated.  Raster artwork can be used in flag production, but the output and finished products are not as crisp as those that are created from Vector art files.

REVOLVING TRUCK (Single or Double):  The truck is an assembly that mounts to the top of the flagpole and has a pulley as well a threaded opening that receives the ornament. The revolving trucks includes bearings that allow it to turn with the wind. A single revolving truck has one pulley and a double revolving truck has two pulleys.

ROPED HEADING:  A type of heading where the hoist end is reinforced with a rope sewn into and throughout the heading. Most often used on 8 ft. x 12 ft. and larger flags.

SHOE BASE FOUNDATION:  Is a method of installing a flagpole when a set of anchor bolts are secured into a concrete pad.  The base of the flagpole has a shoe base plate welded on that then slides down over the bolts and is secured with a series of washers and nuts.

SINGLE REVERSE:  Single reverse refers to a flag/banner that is made of a single layer of material.  The emblem/logo/text is printed to read correctly on the front of the flag and the image penetrates through the layer of material so that it is visible from the back.  When viewing the flag from the back, the design will show as the mirror image or reverse of the front side.  Thus text on a single reverse style flag will read backwards on the reverse side.  This is the main method of making flags and includes the way we make the US flag, State Flags (Excluding Washington & Oregon), International flags and military flags.

SNAP HOOKS:  Hardware that attaches the flag to the halyard. Usually made of nylon or brass.

STATIONARY TRUCK:  The truck is an assembly that mounts to the top of the flagpole and has a pulley as well a threaded opening that receives the ornament.  The stationary trucks do no rotate with the flag but stay in a fixed position.

TEARDROP FLAGS:  A more fully rounded top helps distinguish these flags from the other feather shapes. The teardrops come to a point at the bottom and expand with a wide and rounded message area. The teardrop flags require the teardrop hardware set to help create the shape of the flag.

TRUCK:  The device at the top of an outdoor flagpole that houses the pulley wheel.

VECTOR ARTWORK:  Artwork used for production of flags and banners.  This refers to the manner in which the files were built and using lines, points and curves.  It is sometimes called line art.  The advantage of vector art is that it can be scaled to large sizes while maintaining crisp images.  Vector artwork is usually built as either .ai or .eps files.

VERTICAL WALL MOUNTED FLAGPOLE:  An external halyard flagpole that is mounted to the side of a building with a vertical orientation.  Special brackets are used for securing the poles to the buildings.

WALL THICKNESS:  The refers to the thickness of the aluminum tubing that is used in manufacturing the flagpole. The wall thickness also contributes to the overall strength and wind rating of the flagpole.

WIDTH:  The span of a flag down the side parallel to the flag pole.


By Chad Creech, All Star Flags