Glossary of flag-related terms

bunting | canton | dipping the flag | ensign | finial | flagpole, flagstaff, staff | fly | foremast | fourth quarter | gaff | half-mast | halyard | heraldic | heraldry | hoist | mast | peak | pulley | running eye and toggle | second quarter | sleeve | standard(s) | third quarter | yardarm

When describing the details of a flag, it is assumed that the flag is flying from a staff with the flag flying towards the right as seen by the observer.

Details of the Canadian flag: finial, canton (first quarter), sleeve, flagpole or staff, third quarter, halyard, pulley, toggle, hoist, running eye, bottom or foot, length of fly, second quarter, fly, fourth quarter, width of hoist

The canton in the National Flag of Canada is not apparent, but shows very clearly in the Canadian Forces Ensign.

Canadian Forces ensign
bunting
A soft, flimsy, loose-textured, plain-weave cloth most frequently used in flags. Bunting was originally made from cotton or worsted yarns, but today's flags are made primarily from nylon or acrylic fibers.
canton
The place of honour in a flag is the upper half of the hoist. It is also called the First Quarter and sometimes the Upper Hoist.
dipping the flag
Dipping a carried flag means lowering it from a vertical position to 45 degrees from the horizontal, or, even further, touching the ground. The National Flag, when carried, is never dipped or lowered to the ground.
ensign
A special flag based on a country's national flag and used exclusively on naval ships or merchant ships. The civil ensign is the merchant marine's flag.
finial
The decorative ornament on the top of a pike, staff or pole. May be in the form of a spear point, ball, maple leaf, crown, etc.
flagpole, flagstaff, staff
A cylindrical piece of wood or metal to which a flag is attached or from which it is hoisted.
fly
The half of a flag farthest from the halyard; also a synonym for length.
foremast
The mast nearest the bow of the ship.
fourth quarter
The lower half of the fly.
gaff
the spar or hook supporting or extending the upper edge of a four-sided sail.
half-mast
The position of the Flag when flying at half-mast will depend on its size, the length of the mast and its location; but, as a general rule, the centre of the Flag should be exactly half-way down the mast. When hoisted to or lowered from half-mast position, a flag should be first raised to the masthead.
halyard
The rope which raises or lowers a flag.
heraldic
Of or relating to heraldry.
heraldry
The activity of creating or studying coats of arms and of tracing and recording family histories.
hoist
The half of a flag nearest to the halyard; also a synonym for width.
mast
A long pole or spar of timber, iron or steel set upright on a ship's keel, to support the sails.
peak
The upper aftermost corner of a fore-and-aft sail.
pulley
Grooved wheel for the halyard to pass over, which permits the raising and lowering of a flag.
running eye and toggle
A method of hoisting a flag by means of a rope sewn into its heading, which has a wooden toggle at the top and a loop at the bottom that fasten to their opposites at the end of the halyard.
second quarter
The upper half of the fly.
sleeve
A tube of material along the hoist of a flag through which the staff or halyard is inserted.
standard(s)
A long narrow tapering flag that is personal to an individual or corporation and bears heraldic devices.

The personal flag of the head of a state or of a member of a royal family.

An organization flag carried by a mounted or motorized military unit.
third quarter
The lower half of the hoist; it is also called the Lower Hoist.
yardarm
Either end of the yard of a square-rigged ship.
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