|1.||Red Ensign See also White Ensign a flag flown by a ship, branch of the armed forces, etc, to indicate nationality, allegiance, etc|
|2.||any flag, standard, or banner|
|4.||a symbol, token, or emblem; sign|
|5.||(in the US Navy) a commissioned officer of the lowest rank|
|6.||(in the British infantry) a colours bearer|
|7.||(formerly in the British infantry) a commissioned officer of the lowest rank|
|[C14: from Old French enseigne, from Latin |
(1.) Heb. 'oth, a military standard, especially of a single tribe (Num. 2:2). Each separate tribe had its own "sign" or "ensign." (2.) Heb. nes, a lofty signal, as a column or high pole (Num. 21:8, 9); a standard or signal or flag placed on high mountains to point out to the people a place of rendezvous on the irruption of an enemy (Isa. 5:26; 11:12; 18:3; 62:10; Jer. 4:6, 21; Ps. 60:4). This was an occasional signal, and not a military standard. Elevation and conspicuity are implied in the word. (3.) The Hebrew word _degel_ denotes the standard given to each of the four divisions of the host of the Israelites at the Exodus (Num. 1:52; 2:2; 10:14). In Cant. 2:4 it is rendered "banner." We have no definite information as to the nature of these military standards. (See BANNER.)
heraldic symbol carried on a flag or shield. The term is much misunderstood because of the popular use of ensign as a generic term for flag. A grant of arms or a matriculation (registration of armorial bearings) may in its text use the term ensigns armorial to mean the heraldic design of the bearer's arms. See heraldry.
Learn more about ensign with a free trial on Britannica.com.