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Dictionary of Vexillology: M (Meal Flag - Meteor Flag)

Last modified: 2022-08-27 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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1) See ‘dinner flag’.
2) In US usage the practice, almost certainly obsolete, of flying a red triangular pennant from the port yardarm (or spreader) of a pleasure vessel when the crew are at meals – a crew’s meal pennant (see also ‘dinner flag’, ‘guest on board flag’, ‘owner absent flag’ and ‘yardarm’).

Dinner flag  meal pennant
Dinner Flag, US (fotw); Meal Pennant, US (fotw)

1) See ‘battle efficiency pennant’.
2) In US usage, now obsolete, a colloquial (and possibly derogatory) term for the national roundel of Japan see ‘roundel 1)’ (also ‘hinomaru’).

battle efficiency pennant Japanese roundel
Battle Efficiency Pennant (fotw); National Roundel of Japan (fotw)

See ‘meridian’.


An alternative heraldic term to dimidiated - see ‘dimidiated’.

arms - Dobrodzień, Poland flag - Dobrodzień, Poland
Arms and Flag of Dobrodzień, Poland (fotw)

See ‘cog’ and ‘nef’ (also ‘sailing ship’).

medieval sailing ship medieval sailing ship
Flag and Arms of Elbląg County, Poland (fotw)

The heraldic term used when the legs of a bird are of a different tincture from that of its body (see also ‘armed 2)’, ‘armed and langued’, ‘attired’, ‘beaked’, ‘langued’ and ‘tincture’).

Neuchâtel, Switzerland arms - Biale Blota, Poland Doppleschwand, Switzerland
Flag of Neuchâtel, Switzerland (fotw); Arms of Białe Błota, Poland (fotw); Flag of Doppleschwand, Switzerland (fotw)

1) In largely (but not exclusively) US usage, a small national flag (affixed to a short staff) which, on specified memorial occasions, is implanted on the graves at military cemeteries – a grave decoration flag.
2) A flag designed to memorialize one or more persons, or to express sympathy for people in a specific situation. Such flags may or may not be officially recognized, and are sometimes created by adding symbols or wording to a national or other recognized flag (see also ‘celebratory flag’ and ‘commerorative flag’).
3) See ‘commerorative flag’.

POW-MIA flag 9/11 memorial flag 9/11 memorial flag
POW-MIA Flag, US and Canada (fotw) 9/11 Memorial Flags, US (fotw)

A seven-branch candlestick symbolic of Judaism, that is featured on the national arms and the Presidential Standards of Israel, together with other flags both past and present (see also ‘Magen David’ and ‘presidential standard’).

 [Presidential standard - Israel] [Arms of Israel] [menorah]
Presidential Standard and National Arms, Israel (fotw); Flag of the National Insurance Institute, Israel (fotw)

See ‘civil ensign’ under ‘ensign’.

[Merchant ensign] [Merchant ensign] [Merchant ensign]
Merchant/Civil Ensign of Croatia (fotw); Merchant/Civil Ensign of Switzerland (fotw); Merchant/Civil Ensign of India (fotw)

An alternative term, now obsolete, for the civil ensign -see ‘civil ensign’ under ‘ensign’ (also ‘ensign, the’).

[Merchant flag] [Merchant flag] [Merchant flag]
Merchant Flag of Spain 1785 – 1927 (fotw); Merchant Flag of Lucca 1818 – 1819 (fotw); Merchant Flag of Montenegro 1880 - 1918 (fotw)

An alternative term, now obsolete, for the civil jack (see ‘civil jack’ under ‘jack’).

[merchant jack example]  [merchant jack example]  [merchant jack example]
Merchant Jack of England/UK 1674 – 1824 (fotw); Merchant Jack of the Royal Africa Co., England/UK 1672 – 1752 (fotw); Merchant Jack of the Honourable East India Co, England/UK c1660 – 1863 (fotw)

In English heraldic usage the term, now obsolete, for the symbol of either identity or profession used by the non-armigerous – but see ‘house mark’ (also ‘armigerous’).

[merchant mark example]

1. In Belgian usage (although rarely employed), a variant of the naval masthead pennant officially authorized for merchant vessels - see ‘masthead pennant’ (also ‘pennant 2)’ and ‘streamer 2)’).
2. In Habsburg Imperial usage, now obsolete, a term that may be used for the masthead pennant when flown from a merchant vessel between 1786 and 1804, and identical to that flown by contemporary and later warships - see ‘masthead pennant’ (see also ‘pendant’)
3. See ‘merchant ship pendant’

[Merchant Pendant example]
Merchant Pendant, Belgium (fotw)

[Merchant Pendant example]
Merchant Pendant, Habsburg Empire 1786 – 1806 (fotw)

Please note that in European usage, as far as is known, only Belgium and the Habsburg Empire have permitted merchant vessels to legally fly a masthead pennant of this type.

A term for those masthead pennants, now obsolete, that were flown by Brazilian merchant vessels in the 19th Century to show in which province they were registered – a galhardete – but see ‘registration flags’ and ‘galhardete 2)’ (also ‘pendant’ and ‘pennant 2)’). 

[Merchant Ship Pendant example] [Merchant Ship Pendant example]
Merchant Ship Pendants: Rio Grande do Sul and Pernambuco, Brazil (fotw.

An imaginary line drawn (either vertically or horizontally) through the centre of a flag – the median - a vertical or horizontal meridian/median.


An alternative heraldic term to martlet - see ‘martlet’.

Flag of East Sussex, UK (fotw)

In heraldry and vexillology the term used to describe a charge in the form of a mythological creature that is part female and part fish – see ‘heraldic beasts’.

[mermaid] [mermaid] [mermaid]
Flag of Iaras, Brazil (fotw); Arms of Makkum, The Netherlands (fotw); Flag of Alvarelhos, Portugal (fotw)

A newly introduced term, and as yet not fully defined, but one that could that be considered to cover the study of flags from an extended, new or varied perspective (see also ‘vexillology’).

In heraldry see ‘or’ and ‘argent’.

[argent] [or]
Argent and Or

In largely (but not exclusively) US usage now obsolete, an alternative term for the British red ensign – see ‘red ensign 1)’.

[red ensign]
British Red Ensign (fotw)

Please note that there is some doubt as to whether, when first coined (in it is suggested 1801), the term “British Meteor Flag” referred to the red ensign, or to the union jack.

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