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August 11th, 2020

Flag and Flagpole Terminology

Have you ever tried to explain parts on your flagpole? Or even different parts of a flag? Every industry has its own language and the flag and flagpole industry is no different. When you say truck, you think an automobile with a bed to transport items. Now, when I say truck, my mind goes directly to the top of a flagpole. When you say ball, you will think of recreation, football, baseball, or a bowling ball. If I say ball, I think of an ornament on the top of a flagpole. Here is a guide of flag and flagpole terminology to help you understand the flag world.

flag and flagpole terminology

Flag Terminology

Header – Canvas strip of fabric along the hoist side of the flag

Grommet – Brass rings to attach flag to flagpole

D-Ring – Used for larger flags in place of grommets

Pole Sleeve – A sleeve with an opening at the top to place an ornament. Has a leather tab to attach to pole, used on indoor flags, outdoor decorative flags, and guidons. The size of the sleeve is 2x the diameter of the pole

Nylon – Flag material that is lightweight and versatile. 200 denier and made for outdoor use

Polyester – Flag material that looks and feels like cotton, most durable material for an American flag

Koralex – Branded, polyester material

G-Spec – American flags manufactured to government specifications. Ratio is 1:1.9 (height to length) to give an elongated look. G-Spec sizes are 2′ 4 7/16″ x 4′ 6”, 3′ 6”x 6′ 7 3/4”, 5′ x 9’6”, 10’x19’ (Garrison Flag) , 20’x38’

Vexillogy – The study of flags, their history, meanings and symbolism

Canton – The blue area of the US flag

Hoist – Pole side of a flag or the act of raising a flag on a pole

Fly End – The end of the flag that flies freely, opposite side of header or pole sleeve


Flag Finishes

Single Reverse – A flag where the front reads correct, back of flag is reverse or mirror image, typically with the penetration of ink on a digital printed flag

Double Sided – Two flags sewn back to back with a liner – reads correct on back

Appliqued – Hand-sewn custom flag, using layers of fabric

Pennant – A triangle shaped flag

Burgee – A triangle shaped flag, like a pennant with two points at the fly end. Typical used in yachting

Swallowtail – A  rectangle shaped flag with two points at the fly end of the flag, commonly used on guidon flags

Guidon – Military standard (20” tall x 27 ¾ wide) to identify a military unit, company, or troop


Flagpole Terminology

Ball – Ornament for the top of a flagpole

Eagle – Ornament for the top of a flagpole

Truck– The device at the top of an outdoor pole that houses the pulley wheel and to which an ornament is mounted. It is used on in-ground poles only, and there are two different types

Revolving Truck – Spins with the wind

Stationary Truck – Does not move

Halyard – A fancy word for rope. Rope is what the flag is attached to on an in-ground flagpole to allow the flag to raise and lower

Cleat – Part of the flagpole where the rope (halyard) is tied off on an external halyard flagpole

Weight/Counterweight – A component of an internal halyard flagpole. Attached to the end of the rope or cable to keep the flag taught (tight)

Retainer Ring – Used to secure the bottom of the flag to an internal halyard flagpole. This is a cable strung with nylon beads

Cam Cleat – A type of internal halyard flagpole using a cam cleat secured by a locked door to house the rope to raise and lower the flag

Snap Hook – The component that attaches the flag to the rope (halyard) on a flagpole

Snap Hook Cover – A device that covers a snap hook to prevent metal hitting metal and making loud noises

Flash Collar – A decorative cover used at the base of an in-ground flagpole to deflect drainage away from the foundation of the flagpole

Half-Staff – As a symbol of respect, during mourning, the flag is positioned halfway up on the flagpole

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