What does ensign mean?

Definitions for ensign
ˈɛn sən; for 1-3,5 also -saɪnen·sign

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word ensign.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. ensignnoun

    a person who holds a commissioned rank in the United States Navy or the United States Coast Guard; below lieutenant junior grade

  2. national flag, ensignnoun

    an emblem flown as a symbol of nationality

  3. ensignnoun

    colors flown by a ship to show its nationality


  1. ensignnoun

    A badge of office, rank, or power

  2. ensignnoun

    The lowest grade of commissioned officer in the United States Navy, junior to a lieutenant junior grade.

  3. ensignnoun

    A flag or banner carried by military units. See standard, color, colour.

  4. ensignnoun

    The principal flag or banner flown by a ship to indicate nationality.

  5. ensignnoun

    A junior commissioned officer in the 18th and 19th Centuries whose duty was to carry the unit's ensign.

  6. ensignnoun

    A prominent flag or banner.

    Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanced. -Milton, Paradise Lost.

  7. ensignverb

    To designate as by an ensign.

  8. ensignverb

    To distinguish by a mark or ornament

  9. ensignverb

    To distinguish by an ornament, especially by a crown.

    Any charge which has a crown immediately above or upon it, is said to be ensigned.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. ENSIGNnoun

    Etymology: enseigne, French.

    Hang up your ensigns, let your drums be still;
    For here we entertain a solemn peace. William Shakespeare, H. VI.

    The Turks still pressing on, got up to the top of the walls with eight ensigns, from whence they had repulsed the defendants. Richard Knolles, History of the Turks.

    Men taking occasion from the qualities, wherein they observe often several individuals to agree, range them into sorts, in order to their naming, for the convenience of comprehensive signs; under which individuals, according to their conformity to this or that abstract idea, come to be ranked as under ensigns. John Locke.

    He will lift up an ensign to the nations from far. Is. v.

    Princes that fly, their sceptres left behind,
    Contempt or pity, where they travel, find;
    The ensigns of our pow’r about we bear,
    And ev’ry land pays tribute to the fair. Edmund Waller.

    The marks or ensigns of virtues contribute not a little, by their nobleness, to the ornament of the figures; such, for example, as are the decorations belonging to the liberal arts, to war or sacrifices. John Dryden, Dufresnoy.


  1. Ensign

    An ensign is the national flag flown on a vessel to indicate nationality. The ensign is the largest flag, generally flown at the stern (rear) of the ship while in port. The naval ensign (also known as war ensign), used on warships, may be different from the civil ensign (merchant ships) or the yacht ensign (recreational boats). Large versions of naval ensigns called battle ensigns are used when a warship goes into battle. The ensign differs from the jack, which is flown from a jackstaff at the bow of a vessel. In its widest sense, an ensign is just a flag or other standard. The European military rank of ensign, once responsible for bearing a unit's standard (whether national or regimental), derives from it (in the cavalry, the equivalent rank was cornet, named after a type of flag). Ensigns, such as the ancient Roman ensigns in the Arch of Constantine, are not always flags.


  1. ensign

    An ensign is a distinguishing flag or badge, typically used to symbolize a particular country, organization, or rank. In military terms, it can also refer to a rank or office, typically the lowest officer rank in some navies.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Ensignnoun

    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

  2. Ensignnoun

    a signal displayed like a standard, to give notice

  3. Ensignnoun

    sign; badge of office, rank, or power; symbol

  4. Ensignnoun

    formerly, a commissioned officer of the army who carried the ensign or flag of a company or regiment

  5. Ensignnoun

    a commissioned officer of the lowest grade in the navy, corresponding to the grade of second lieutenant in the army

  6. Ensignverb

    to designate as by an ensign

  7. Ensignverb

    to distinguish by a mark or ornament; esp. (Her.), by a crown; thus, any charge which has a crown immediately above or upon it, is said to be ensigned

  8. Etymology: [L. enseigne, L. insignia, pl. of insigne a distinctive mark, badge, flag; in + signum mark, sign. See Sign, and cf. Insignia, 3d Ancient.]


  1. Ensign

    An ensign is a national flag when used at sea, in vexillology, or a distinguishing token, emblem, or badge, such as a symbol of office in heraldry. The word has also given rise to the military rank of "ensign", a rank of junior officer once responsible for bearing the ensign. via Scottish, from Old French enseigne "mark, symbol, signal; flag, standard, pennant," from the Latin plural insignia.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Ensign

    en′sīn, n. a sign or mark: the sign or flag distinguishing a nation or a regiment: one who carries the colours: until 1871, the title given to officers of the lowest commissioned rank in the British infantry.—ns. En′sign-bear′er; En′signcy, En′signship, the rank or commission of an ensign in the army. [O. Fr. enseigne—L. insignia, pl. of insigne, a distinctive mark—in, and signum, a mark.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. ensign

    [From the Anglo-Saxon segn.] A large flag or banner, hoisted on a long pole erected over the stern, and called the ensign-staff. It is used to distinguish the ships of different nations from each other, as also to characterize the different squadrons of the navy; it was formerly written ancient. Ensign is in the army the title of the junior rank of subaltern officers of infantry; from amongst them are detailed the officers who carry the colours.

Suggested Resources

  1. ensign

    Song lyrics by ensign -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by ensign on the Lyrics.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Ensign is ranked #12153 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Ensign surname appeared 2,564 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 1 would have the surname Ensign.

    93.7% or 2,403 total occurrences were White.
    3.3% or 85 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    1.5% or 40 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    0.6% or 17 total occurrences were Asian.
    0.5% or 13 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.
    0.2% or 6 total occurrences were Black.

How to pronounce ensign?

How to say ensign in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of ensign in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of ensign in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of ensign in a Sentence

  1. Ben Evans:

    With our paint schemes, we stand out -- we look different. We'll be flying the White Ensign together in the Indo-Pacific region. People will know that British Royal Navy is back.

  2. Paul Ludlow:

    As a British company flying the Red Ensign it is not advisable for us to maintain our planned Dubai and Arabian Gulf program this winter season, we have therefore taken the unusual step of withdrawing Oceana from the region for the upcoming season.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for ensign

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"ensign." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 30 Nov. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/ensign>.

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    a long narrow excavation in the earth
    • A. muddle
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