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ensign

Syllabification: en·sign

Definition of ensign in English:

noun

1 /ˈens(ə)n, ˈenˌsīn/ A flag or standard, especially a military or naval one indicating nationality.
Example sentences
  • The Blue Ensign is not the ensign of the Royal Naval Reserve as such, as is sometimes stated.
  • The French now used plain white flags, including ensigns, white being the royal colour.
  • An ensign was the national flag flown (technically ‘worn’) by a warship.
Synonyms
1.1 archaic A sign or emblem of a particular thing: all the ensigns of our greatness
2 /ˈens(ə)n/ A commissioned officer of the lowest rank in the US Navy and Coast Guard, ranking above chief warrant officer and below lieutenant.
Example sentences
  • All Sailors will be given a clear career roadmap, outlining how they progress from seaman to master chief, or from ensign to admiral.
  • Think about a fairly new petty officer or ensign dealing with a new system.
  • ROTC is an elective course of study, taken in conjunction with any academic major that, upon graduation, leads to a reserve commission as a second lieutenant in the army, air force, or Marine Corps or an ensign in the navy.
2.1 historical The lowest rank of commissioned infantry officer in the British army.
Example sentences
  • Just to make things complicated, their ensign - the lowest commissioned rank in the British army - was a lieutenant-general, one of the highest in the world of real soldiers.
  • The poems were never published, but they circulated widely and, as one officer said at the time, ‘there was scarcely a more or less literate ensign in the army who did not know them by heart.’
  • The young ensign is sailing home from India in 1805 when his ship is seized by a French warship and he ends up off Cadiz, Spain.
2.2 historical A standard-bearer.
Example sentences
  • The colours marched off the parade, an illustration where historically they would have been lodged for safe keeping in the colour ensign's quarters for the night and the evening watch mounted.

Origin

late Middle English: from Old French enseigne, from Latin insignia 'signs of office' (see insignia). Compare with ancient2.

More
  • seal from (Old English):

    Rather than signing their name, people formerly stamped a personal seal in wax on a completed letter or other document. The expressions put the seal on, ‘to put the finishing touch to something’, and set your seal to, ‘to mark something with your own distinctive character’, both derive from this. To seal something off reflects the use of seals to check that something has not been opened or disturbed. In these and related uses, seal goes back to Latin sigillum ‘small picture’, from signum ‘a sign’, the source of design (late 16th century), designate (mid 17th century), ensign (Late Middle English), insignia (mid 17th century), sign (Middle English), signal (Late Middle English), scarlet, and numerous other English words. This seal dates from Middle English. The name of the animal seal derives from Old English seolh, the source also of the selkie or silkie (mid 16th century), the mysterious seal woman of folklore.

Words that rhyme with ensign

adulterineriverine • Benson

Definition of ensign in:

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Word of the day tenebrous
Pronunciation: ˈtɛnɪbrəs
adjective
dark; shadowy or obscure