Definitions for half-mast
This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word half-mast
a position some distance below the top of a mast to which a flag is lowered in mourning or to signal distress
The lowered position, half the height of a mast, at which a flag is flown when expressing respect for the dead.
a point some distance below the top of a mast or staff; as, a flag a half-mast (a token of mourning, etc.)
Half mast, also known as half-staff, is the term describing flying a flag below the summit of the flagpole. This is done in many countries as a symbol of respect, mourning, or distress. The tradition of flying the flag at half-mast began in the 17th century, perhaps to allow "the invisible flag of death" to fly at the top of the mast—which signified death's presence, power, and prominence. In some countries, for example the UK, and especially in military contexts, a "half-mast" flag is still flown exactly one flag's height down from its normal position, and no lower, to allow for this flag of death. This was the original flag etiquette. It is now standard, especially outside the UK, to fly the flag at halfway down the mast regardless of the size of the flag or hoist. When hoisting a flag that is to be displayed at half-mast, it should be hoisted to the finial for an instant, then lowered to half-mast. Likewise when it is lowered at the end of the day, it is to be hoisted to the finial for an instant, and then lowered. In the US, the term "half-mast" is commonly used colloquially to refer to half-staff, although US law and military tradition indicate that "half-mast" is generally reserved to usage aboard a ship, where flags are typically flown from masts. Not all English-speaking nations observe this distinction.
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