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Dictionary of Vexillology: S (Surfing Flag - Symmetrical Outwardly Stepped)

Last modified: 2024-06-08 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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See ‘beach flag’.

surfing flags surfing flags
Surfing Flag UK and Surfing Pennant France (fotw)

1) In vexillology a term that may be used when one charge is placed above or at the top of another – but see ‘above 1)’ (also ‘charge 1)’ and ‘topped 1)’).
2) In heraldry the term used when an ordinary or a charge (or charges) is (or are) placed over – that is in front of – another as per the examples given below, and which generally (although not exclusively) touches the field – but see the notes below, ‘charged 2)’, ‘debruised’ and ‘overall 2)’ (also ‘charge 1)’, ‘ensigned’, ‘ordinary’ and ‘throughout’.

Danzig 1920 Vilabertran, Spain Vilabertran, Spain
Civil Flag and Ensign of Danzig 1920 – 1939 (fotw); Naval Flag of the Christ’s Knights Order 17thC, Portugal (fotw); Flag of Vilabertran, Spain (fotw)

a) With regard to 2) the correct heraldic term for a charge (such as a crown or coronet) placed above rather than over - that is in front of - another is ‘ensigned’ as referenced above.
b) Also please note with regard to 2), it is suggested that a glossary or dictionary or heraldry be consulted with regard to comparative use of the terms "charged", “overall” and “surmounted by”.

1) See ‘fictitious flag’.
2) A flag that is introduced as a replacement for one previously in use but now banned.

[surrogate flag] [surrogate flag]
Surrogate/Fictitious flag of the Soviet Army (fotw); Surrogate Civil Ensign 1945, Japan (fotw)

An alternative heraldic term to overall - see ‘overall 2)’.

Flag of Chκne-Bourg, Switzerland (fotw)

See ‘fan’ (also ‘bunting 2)’).


1) A V-shaped cut in the fly of a flag or pennant and forming two points - fork/forked tail or fork-tailed - but see 'double pointed' (also ‘crutch’ ‘fly 1)’, ‘indentation(s)’, ‘orthogonal’, ‘palm’, ‘rounded swallow-tail’ and ‘hussar cut’).
2) adj A flag or pennant having such a cut or cuts in the fly (see also ‘swallowtail and tongue’, ‘triangular-tongued’ and ‘triple-tailed 2)’)..

[a swallowtail flag] [a swallowtail flag] [a swallowtail flag]
Naval Ensign of Germany (fotw); Flag Z in the German Signal Code (fotw); State Ensign of Saar, Germany (fotw)

1) A flag as above, but having a narrower third tail between the other two and so coming to three points at the fly - three-tailed or tongued, or a double- or (inaccurately) triple-swallowtail (see also ‘indentation(s)’ ‘palm’, ‘square-tongued’, ‘tails’, ‘tongue(s) 1)’ and ‘triangular-tongued
2) See ‘triple-tailed 1)’).

[Finnish naval ensign] [a tongued swallowtail]  [Swedish naval ensign]
War Flag/Naval Ensign of Finland (fotw); Flag of Čechy, Slovakia (fotw); Naval Ensign of Sweden (fotw)

An ancient symbol in the form of an equal-armed cross with each arm continued at a right angle, presently used (running anti-clockwise) as the emblem of a Chinese humanitarian organization founded in 1922 and of the Korean Buddhists, (in a clock-wise form) on some flags of Finland, and until 1945 as the emblem of the German Nazi Party – a crooked/hooked cross, fylfot or cross potent rebated (see also ‘arrow cross’, ‘cross 2)’, ‘rune(s)’ and ‘sun cross’).

[Germany 1933] [swastika examples] [swastika]
National Flag, Germany 1933-45; China and Korea (CS); National Socialist White People's Party 1976, US (fotw)

A sharp-edged weapon consisting of a blade and a hilt (handle); it will usually be equipped with a full or partial handguard and in some cases also a pommel. Swords vary much with period and region, although in general (vexillological) use the name largely (but by no means exclusively) refers to a medieval-type weapon having a straight double-edged blade, with a hilt, cross-guard and pommel, and based upon a classical Roman short-sword – the gladius – but see ‘sabre’, ‘scimitar’ and ‘zulfikar’ (also ‘hilted’ and ‘pommeled’).

[sword] [sword] [sword]
Flag of Chavusy, Belarus (fotw); Flag of Haarlem, The Netherlands (fotw); Flag of the Army, UK (fotw)

Please note that the many types of sword are beyond the remit of this dictionary, and it is suggested that a suitable source be consulted if further details are required.

See ‘cross fitchy’ and ‘cross of Santiago’.

[sword cross] [sword cross] [sword cross]
Flag of Laranjeiro, Portugal (fotw); Flag of Vagos, Portugal (fotw)

See ‘flaming sword’.

[sword flamant]
Flag of Sγo Miguel de Acha, Portugal (fotw)

See ‘dress knot’.

[dress knot]
Officer’s Sword/Dress Knot, USN and USCG (

See ‘zulfikar’.

Bey of Tunis
Standard of the Bey of Tunis c1860 - 1957 (fotw)

1) Generically, the vexilloid, flag, coat of arms, emblem or badge that may be considered representative or symbolic of a nation, region, municipality, people, organization or cause – see ‘badge 1)’, ‘coat of arms 1), ‘emblem 1)’, ‘emblem, military or governmental’, ‘emblem, state or national’, ‘vexilloid 1)’ and ‘vexilloid 1)’.
2) Specifically, see ‘Logo 1)’.

[Nordic Council] [symbol] [PANAM]
Former Flag of the Nordic Council (fotw); Flag of Apple Inc., US (fotw); Flag of Pan American World Airways (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘abatements’.

Lion couard denoting cowardice or dishonour (Wikipedia)

See ‘state symbols’.

[New Mexico state symbol] [New Mexico state symbol] [New Mexico state symbol]
Some Symbols of the State of New Mexico, US (fotw, ICH and CS)

See ‘stepped gonfalon’.

stepped gonfalons stepped gonfalons

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