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

Dictionary of Vexillology: F (Federal Service Flag - Fixed)

Last modified: 2024-06-15 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

On this page:

The term, and a direct translation of bundesdienstflagge, used in Austria and Germany for the flag flown by agencies of the federal government – see ‘state flag 1)’ (also ‘state service flag 1)’).

[Federal Service Flag of Austria] [Federal Service Flag of Germany]
The Federal Service Flags of Austria and Germany (fotw)

A metal tip placed on the bottom of a staff (see also ‘pike’ and ‘staff 2)’).

A Ferrule According to Spanish Regulations (Reglamento de Banderas Actualizado)

The alternative heraldic term for a horseshoe – see ‘horseshoe’.

[Åseral, Norway] [Åseral, Norway]
Arms and Flag of Åseral, Norway (fotw)

An alternative heraldic term for a mill bearing – see ‘millrind’.

[Pepinster Belgium] [Pepinster Belgium]
Arms and Flag of Pepinster, Belgium (fotw)

1) In vexillology the central stripe of a horizontal triband or tricolour – see ‘triband 2)’ and ‘tricolour 2)’.
2) In heraldry the term for a horizontal stripe where the centre line lies along the horizontal meridian of a shield, a banner of arms or any quartering/division thereof, and which (in strict heraldic usage) should occupy one-third the width of that shield, banner of arms or quartering/division (see also ‘banner of arms’, ‘bar’, ‘in fess’, ‘perfess’ and ‘quartering 1)’).

[fess] [fess] [fess]
Flag of Werne, Germany (fotw); Flag of Borken County, Germany (fotw); Flag of Warendorf 1952 – 1974, Germany (fotw);

a) With regard to 1) in vexillology a fess and a bar are regarded as almost synonymous, however:
b) Regarding 2) in correct heraldic usage there is a size difference between the two, and that a fess should be confined to the centreline of the field whereas a bar or bars need not.
c) It should further be noted that a fess may be wavy or otherwise embellished/differenced as illustrated below.

Arms of Figueiró, Portugal (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘honour point 2)’.


A heraldically derived term intended to mean a single, narrow horizontal stripe – but see ‘bar’, ‘barrulet’ and ‘filet’ (also ‘fess’).


In heraldry see ‘fess 2)’ and its following note c).

[fess wavy]
Flag of Breitenbach, Switzerland (fotw)

1) In traditional heraldry see ‘in fess’.
2) In some heraldic usage this term relates specifically to the axis of a charge or charges, rather than to its, or their position, on a shield, a banner of arms or a flag – but see ‘in fess’ as referenced above, and the note below.

Hölstein, CH fesswise fesswise
Flag of Hölstein, Switzerland (fotw); Arms of Carção, Portugal (fotw); Flag of Klagenfurt, Austria (fotw)

Please note with regard to 2) that charges can be arranged in pale but orientated fesswise as per the example below, with would be blazoned as “…acorns fesswise in pale”’

Arms of Terfens, Austria (Wikipedia)

In heraldry see ‘in fess’).

[fessy example]
Flag of Saerbeck, Germany (fotw)

See ‘ceremonial flag 1)’ (also ‘gonfanon’).

[festive banner example]
Festive Banner of Barlinek, Poland (fotw)

A flag that appears in a work of fiction either visual or written – which may or may not have physical existence as a flag – but which is (entirely or largely) a product of the author’s imagination (see also ‘fictitious flag’ below).

[flag from Star Trek] [flag from the Movie Royal Flash ] [flag from the novel Nostromo]
Flag from the TV Series Star Trek (fotw); Flag of Strackenz from the Movie Royal Flash (fotw); Flag of Sulaco from the novel Nostromo (fotw)

A flag or the illustration of a flag – that purports to represent an actual entity or person, but for which no evidence of any such use by that entity or person exists – a pseudo, spurious or surrogate flag – but see ‘flagoid’ (also ‘false flag 1)’, ‘fictional flag’ above, ‘flag of pretence 1)’ and ‘replica flag’).

[flag from film Dark of the Sun] [flag from film Casablanca] [flag from film K-19]
Spurious Flag of the Congo from the film Dark of the Sun (fotw); Spurious Flag of French Morocco from the film Casablanca (fotw); Spurious Soviet Naval Flag from the Film K19 (fotw)

1) The whole background or predominant colour of a flag – the ground of a flag.
2) In heraldry, the surface of a shield upon which charges or bearings are blazoned, or of each separate coat when the shield is quartered or impaled (see also ‘blazon’, ‘coat’, ‘impale’, ‘shield’ and ‘quarter’).

[Nova Bukovica, Croatia] [Nova Bukovica, Croatia]
Flag and Arms of Nova Bukovica, Croatia (fotw)

1) In US military usage, a larger version of a positional flag designed for hoisting on halyards outdoors under field conditions (see ‘positional flag’).
2) In US military usage, a national flag of approximately the same size flown with the positional field flag.

The heraldic term for a narrow horizontal stripe that is of no specified width, but which is considered to be a diminutive of bar – see ‘bar 1)’ (also and ‘barrulet’).

Please note that the term is sometimes spelt “fillet” but in this form it has a different meaning in English heraldry – see ‘fillet 2)’ and ‘fillet 3)’.

The terms sometimes used to describe a plain cross (or saltire) with narrow arms – but see ‘filet’ and ‘cross 1)’ (also ‘fillet 1)’ and ‘fillet 2)’). 

[filet cross] [filet cross] [filet cross]
Flag and Arms of Zhytomir County, Ukraine (fotw); Flag of Freixeda, Portugal (fotw)

Please note that the term is sometimes spelt 'fillet' but in this form it has a different meaning in English heraldry – see ‘fillet 2)’ and ‘fillet 3)’.

1) A frequent misspelling of the heraldic term filet – see ‘filet’.
2) A heraldic term used to describe a second chief placed below that at the top of a shield or banner of arms; it is suggested by some sources that a fillet should have a depth equal to one-fourth of the chief above and by others that it is merely a diminutive of that term – see ‘chief’.
3) The term may also be used to describe a narrow headband or plain coronet – see ‘coronet 1)’. 

[fillet] [fillet] [fillet]
Former Flag and Arms of Virovitica-Podravina, Croatia (fotw); Flag of Sardinia, Italy (fotw)

The term for a tricolour (either vertical, horizontal or diagonal) where a fimbriation appears between the stripes – see ‘fimbriation 1)’ (also ‘multi-stripe’ with its following note and ‘tricolour 1)’).

[fimbriated tricolour] [fimbriated tricolour] [fimbriated tricolour]
National Flag of Saint Vincent 1979-1985 (fotw); National Flag of Gambia (fotw); Flag of Namibia (fotw)

1) Generically on flags, a (relatively) narrow band or line of contrasting colour separating two areas of the same, similar or differing colour, such as a band, charge or canton, from its field – see note a) below (also ‘canton 1)’, ‘edging’ and ‘border’).
2) Specifically and in heraldry, as above but a narrow band or line placed on a shield, banner of arms or flag in accordance with the rule of tincture – see ‘rule of tincture’ (also ‘border’snd ‘multi-stripe’)

Kenya Saudi Arabia Cacinci, Croatia
National Flag of Kenya (fotw); Civil Ensign of Saudi Arabia (fotw);  Flag sof Čačinci, Croatia (fotw)

a) The use of this term on flags is derived from an application of the heraldic rule of tincture (as referenced in 2) above) which states that two tinctures must be separated by a band of a metal (gold/yellow or silver/white) or two metals by a band of one or other tincture.
b) A charge may have a double or even triple fimbriation, and if so we suggest that you consult the entry for '
cotticed' and its following note.

Terms for the national colours (or sometimes the national flag/an emblem therefrom) when painted as a symbol of nationality on the tail plane/fin of largely (but not exclusively) military aircraft – a fin marking or rudder stripes (see also ‘fuselage marking(s)’, ‘aircraft marking(s)’, ‘flag emblem’, ‘roundel 1)’, ‘national colours 2)’, and ‘wing marking(s)’).

Royal Australian Air Force fin flash fin flash of Dominican Republic Royal Thai Air Force fin flash
Fin Flash of the Royal Australian Air Force (fotw); Fin Flash of the Dominican Republic (fotw); Fin Flash of the Royal Thai Air Force (fotw)

A cast or carved ornament (such as a cross, crescent, crown or spearhead) placed at the top of the flagpole, mast or flag staff above the truck or on the top of a staff – a staff ornament (see also ‘Appendix I’, ‘ferrule’, ‘flag pole’, ‘pike’, ‘staff 2)’ and ‘truck’).

[finial] [finial] [finial]
US Military Finials: President, Navy and Army (fotw)

In British RN usage now obsolete, the flag devised by Captain Sir Home Popham in 1800, and raised to indicate that a signal hoist was complete – see ‘telegraph flag 1)’ (also ‘signal hoist’).

[Finishing Flag]
Finishing Flag in Popham’s Code (fotw)

In largely US usage, a flag with a red field and inscriptions raised in conjunction with a wildfire danger warning by the Forestry Commissions of many states (see also ‘red flag 1)’).

[Fire Alert Flag - Oklahoma]
Red Fire Alert Flag of the Oklahoma Forestry Commission, US (CS)

1) Generically in heraldry, a charge intended to represent the handheld anvil from which a spark is struck.
2) Specifically In Eastern European heraldry as above but presented as a ‘C’ shaped charge – an ocila or otsila – for example those on the shield in Serbia’s national arms and on the flag of Arandelovac as illustrated below.

 [Firesteel example]  [Firesteel example]
Flag of Aranđelovac, Serbia (fotw); Cavalry Standard, Holy Roman Empire c1630 (Željko Heimer))

The terms for that quarter of a flag which occupies the upper hoist – the first quarter, upper hoist or upper hoist canton – see ‘canton 1)’ and ‘canton 3)’ (also ‘hoist 1)’).

[First canton]

In heraldry see ‘haurient’, ‘naiant’ and ‘urinant’.

[fish] [fish] [fish]
Flag of Illhaeusern, France (fotw); Flag of Figaró-Montmany, Spain (fotw); Flag of Ponta do Pargo, Portugal (fotw)

The alternative heraldic terms that signify pointed, and almost invariably applied to a cross – see ‘cross fitchy’.

cross of Santiago [cross fitchy] [cross fitchy]
Flag of Quinta do Conde, Portugal (fotw); Flag of Visselhövede, Germany (fotw); Flag of Alcaria Ruiva, Portugal (fotw)

An alternative heraldic term to throughout – see ‘throughout’.

[First canton]
Emperor's Standard 1871-1918, Germany (fotw)

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