Definition of ensign in English:


Line breaks: en¦sign
Pronunciation: /ˈɛnsʌɪn


1A flag or standard, especially a military or naval one indicating nationality.
More 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.
flag, standard, colour(s), jack, banner, pennant, pennon, streamer, banderole;
British pendant;
Nautical burgee;
in ancient Romevexillum
1.1 archaic A sign or emblem of a particular thing: all the ensigns of our greatness
2 historical A standard-bearer.
More 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.
3The lowest rank of commissioned officer in the US and some other navies, above chief warrant officer and below lieutenant: [as title]: a copy of Ensign Smith’s report
More 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.
3.1 historical The lowest rank of commissioned infantry officer in the British army.
More 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.


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

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