ensign en"sign ([e^]n"s[i^]n also [e^]n"s[imac]n, except for 4a), n. [L. enseigne, L. insignia, pl. of insigne a distinctive mark, badge, flag; in + signum mark, sign. See {Sign}, and cf. {Insignia}, 3d {Ancient}.] 1. A flag; a banner; a standard; esp., the national flag, or a banner indicating nationality, carried by a ship or a body of soldiers; -- as distinguished from flags indicating divisions of the army, rank of naval officers, or private signals, and the like. [1913 Webster]

Hang up your ensigns, let your drums be still. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

2. A signal displayed like a standard, to give notice. [1913 Webster]

He will lift an ensign to the nations from far. --Is. v. 26. [1913 Webster]

3. Sign; badge of office, rank, or power; symbol. [1913 Webster]

The ensigns of our power about we bear. --Waller. [1913 Webster]

4. (a) Formerly, a commissioned officer of the army who carried the ensign or flag of a company or regiment. (b) A commissioned officer of the lowest grade in the navy, corresponding to the grade of second lieutenant in the army. --Ham. Nav. Encyc. [1913 Webster]

Note: In the British army the rank of ensign was abolished in 1871. In the United States army the rank is not recognized; the regimental flags being carried by a sergeant called the color sergeant. [1913 Webster]

{Ensign bearer}, one who carries a flag; an ensign. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.


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  • ensign — [en′sīn΄; ] also, & for 4 always [, en′sən] n. [ME & OFr enseigne < L insignia: see INSIGNIA] 1. a badge, symbol, or token of office or authority 2. a flag or banner; specif., a national flag, as one displayed on a ship [Historical] 3. Brit.… …   English World dictionary

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