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

Dictionary of Vexillology: S (Stella - Stumpmast)

Last modified: 2022-09-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

On this page:

The Latin/Italian for star and occasionally seen in place of that term – see ‘star 1)’.

The term used when the diagonal dividing line on a shield, banner of arms or a flag is created by a series of step-like indentations – but see the note below (also ‘dancetty’, ‘serrated 1)’, ‘stepped fly’ and ‘stepped gonfalon’).

[stepped example] [stepped example]
Flag and Arms of Donja Stubica, Croatia (fotw)

Please note that this term may also be used to describe other charges as appropriate, for example a “mount stepped” (as illustrated below), or see the "stepped pattern" on the flag of Artsakh – see ‘mount’ (also ‘cross of Calvary’).

[stepped example] 
Flag of Argeriz, Portugal (fotw)

1) (adj) A term for the type of flag, now largely (if not wholly) obsolete, whose fly is extended by a rectangular projection (smaller in width and of varying length) centred on the horizontal meridian of the flag (see also ‘engrailed fly’, ‘fly 1)’, ‘meridian’, ‘stepped’, ‘schwenkel’, ‘stepped’ and ‘tails’).
2) See ‘stepped gonfalon’ below.

[stepped flags] [stepped flags] [stepped flags]
A selection of 19th Century US House Flags (CS)

a) This was not considered an established term and had been introduced by the Editors as no (accurately descriptive) established alternative could then be found, however, since that time the Italian term “gonfaloni scalinati” has been discovered and is accordingly defined below.
b) At the time of writing it is unclear as to whether the flag having a straight-sided but angled fly (as illustrated below) should be considered as “engrailed” or “stepped” – see ‘engrailed fly’.

Betxi, Spain
Flag of Betxi, Spain (Jose Antonio Jimenez Ruiz)

(adj) The term (and a direct translation of the Italian “gonfaloni scalinati”) that may be used to describe those gonfalons whose fly forms a series of steps as in the examples given below (see also ‘gonfalon’ and ‘stepped’ ).

stepped gonfalons
Asymmetric Right (or Dexter) Stepped; Asymmetric Left (or Sinister) Stepped; Symmetrical Outwardly Stepped; Symmetrical Inwardly Stepped

See ‘lapel flag 1)’.

[flag pin]
Stickpin flag (worldflags4u)

In heraldry see ‘gemmed 1)’.

Flag of Villarsel-le-Gibloux, Switzerland (fotw)

1) Specifically, in US military usage, the smallest size of national flag flown at army and marine corps posts - 5 feet (1.5 m) wide by 9 feet 6 inches (2.9 m) long, or half as wide and half as long as a marine corps post flag (see also ‘garrison flag’ and ‘post flag’).
2) Generally, a smaller size of flag than that laid down for general use, and meant to be flown in stormy weather.
3) See ‘storm warning flag’ below.

In US and some other usage, one of a system of flags and pennants used to warn mariners of severe weather in the area - a weather or weather warning flag (see also ‘beach flag’ and ‘maritime lifesaving flags’).

Storm warning flag Storm warning flag
US Coast Guard Hurricane Warning Flag and Gale Warning Pennant (fotw)

1) A long narrow ribbon attached to a flag’s staff, such as those upon which battle honours are inscribed - see ‘award streamer’ (also ‘banderole’, ‘battle honour’ and ‘streamer retaining ring’).
2) The term for a long narrow flag or pennant, now obsolete, usually (but not invariably) showing livery colours, often fitted with a frame at the head and flown from a vessel for reasons of bravado or as decoration – sometimes (inaccurately) called a gonfalon (see also ‘ancient 2)’, ‘deck flags’, ‘frame 2)’, ‘livery colours’, ‘masthead pennant 2)’, ‘merchant pendant’, ‘pavisade’, ‘pennant 2)’ and ‘postures’.
3) See ‘wimpel’.

[streamers]  [streamers]  [streamers]
The Henri Grace a Dieu, The Peter and The Salamander, English Royal Navy c1525 (Wikipedia)

Please note with regard to 2) that streamers supplied to the Henry Grace a Dieu (flagship of the English royal fleet) in 1514 are recorded as having ranged between 15 and 51 yards (13.5m and 46m) long.

An often decorative, ridged band sometimes fitted to the staff of a military colour below the finial, and from which battle streamers are suspended (see also ‘battle honour, ‘colour 2)’, ‘staff 2)’ and ‘streamer 1)’).

(v) Nautical terms meaning to surrender - to lower or haul down one's flag, as a sign of that surrender (see also ‘battle ensign(s)’, ‘colours 4)’ and ‘nail one’s colours to the mast’).

strike colours
French Frigate Striking Her Colours 1778 (Wikipedia)

In heraldry a term used when the strings of a bow or of a musical instrument, the carrying strap of a horn, or the tapes that hang below a prelate’s mitre, particularly when these are of a different tincture (see also ‘bugle horn’, ‘crozier’, ‘garnished’, ‘lappets’, ‘mitre’ and ‘tincture’).

stringed stringed stringed
Flag of Cornellà del Terri, Spain (fotw); Arms of Vilaça e Fradelos, Portugal (fotw); Flag of Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, Ireland (fotw)

A band or bands of colour – whether disposed vertically, horizontally or diagonally – which generally reach one or more edges of a flag, but which do not cover the whole area – see ‘striped’ (also ‘appendix IX’, ‘bar’, ‘bend’, ‘converging stripes’, ‘expanding stripe(s)’, ‘fess’, ‘multi-stripe’, ‘pale’, ‘triband’, ‘tricolour’ and ‘bicolour’).

St.Vincent Gabon Mauritius
National Flag of St. Vincent (fotw); National Flag of Gabon (fotw); National Flag of Mauritius (fotw)

The term used to describe a flag having more than two parallel bands of colour – whether disposed vertically, horizontally or diagonally – but see ‘appendix IX’, ‘converging stripes’, ‘expanding stripe(s)’,  ‘multi-stripe’, ‘stripe’, ‘triband’, and ‘tricolour’ (also ‘bicolour’).

Belgium civil flag Germany Uganda
Civil Flag of Belgium (fotw); National Flag of Germany (fotw); National Flag of Uganda (fotw)

A truncated mast (see also ‘flying line’, and ‘mast 1)’).

Please note that a stumpmast with a fixed yard at the truck giving it a T-shape is common right forward in the bows of those bulk cargo carrying vessels plying the inland waterways of Europe so as to allow for passing under bridges and other overhead obstructions. The taller of this type of mast is also often hinged for lowering to deck level for the same purpose (see also 'truck' and 'yard').

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