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Dictionary of Vexillology: V (Vexiferret - Vytis Cross)

Last modified: 2024-06-08 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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A colloquial term for one who undertakes an assiduous search for (sometimes obscure) flag information (see also ‘vexiferreting’ below and ‘vexillologist’).
A colloquial term for the assiduous search for (sometimes obscure) flag information (see also ‘vexiferret’ above and ‘vexillologist’).
1) See 'vexillifer'.
2) A member of a Roman military unit (vexillatio) detached from the main force under a vexillum – but see ‘vexillation’ (also ‘vexillifer’ and ‘vexillum’).

1) (adj) Of or pertaining to flags (see also ‘vexillology’).
2) See ‘vexillifer’.

Any detachment of soldiers serving under a vexillum - but see ‘vexillarius 2)’ (also ‘banderium’, ‘vexillifer’ and ‘vexillum’).

Please note this term is taken directly from the Latin vexillatio being a detachment of soldiers as described above.

A 19th Century term, now obsolete, for the standard bearer in a medieval mystery play.

The treatment of a flag as a fetish or religious object.

The bearer of the vexillum - see ‘vexillum’ (also ‘vexillarius 2)’ and ‘vexillation’)


A person who loves and/or collects flag books (but see also ‘vexillophile’ below).

A designer of flags, or the creator of a flag design.

The designing of flags, or the creation of a flag design.

A collector of flags and/or artefacts concerning flags – but see ‘vexillophile’.

1) A rigid emblem (such as a carved animal or similar) mounted on a pole, which fulfils the function of a flag but which is not a flag, and characteristic (but not exclusively so) of traditional societies – not to be confused with a tufa (see also ‘cone flag’, ‘symbol 1)’, ‘tugh’ and ‘tufa’).
2) As above, but the forerunner of the flag as in the Nome standards of ancient Egypt, the Semeia of classical Greece or in the Eagles of a Roman legion – a proto-flag (see also ‘eagle 2)’, ‘Semeion’, ‘standard 4)’ and ‘symbol 1)’).
3) See ‘standard 6)’.

[Nome Standard of Djeb]
Nome Standard of Djeb, Ancient Egypt (

A student and/or collector of flag related postage stamps and/or of related information.

A collector of flags and/or of information regarding flags - a flag enthusiast but see ‘vexillohobbyist’ (also ‘vexillobibliophile’).

A student of vexillology (see also ‘vexillology’).

The late (Rear Admiral) Andries Burgers SAN(ret)

The scholarly or scientific study of the history, symbolism and/or usage of flags – flag research or flag studies.

Please note, the term was coined by Dr. Whitney Smith of the Flag Research Center (Massachusetts, USA) and based on the Latin vexillum (see also ‘vexillologist’ and ‘vexillum’).

A person who is active in flag design or usage, or is engaged in promoting a specific agenda and/or point of view with regard to flags.

The collection of flags and/or of information regarding flags (see ‘vexillophile’ above).

An ancient Roman standard consisting of an often decorated (usually) red or purple cloth hung from a cross bar. It is considered to be the first true flag in Western culture, and from which the term vexillology is derived (see also ‘vexillarius’, ‘vexillifer’, 'vexillation' and ‘vexillology’).

[Roman vexillum]
Vexillum of the 13th Legion (fotw)

Please note however, that whilst frequently described as a cavalry standard (which it was), the vexillum also had a number of other military uses.

A medieval term, now obsolete, for the royal standard – see ‘royal standard 1)’.

vexillum regale vexillum regale
Vexillum Regale/Royal Standard of King Richard I c1290, England (fotw); Vexillum Regale/Royal Standard of King Alphonso III c1255, Portugal (fotw)

Please note that it is unclear whether the medieval chroniclers were referring to a banner of the royal arms as is common today, or to a standard of the heraldic pattern known to have been used by many English kings in the medieval period (see also ‘standard 4)’).

vexillum regale
Heraldic Standard of King Richard III c1484, England (fotw)

A medieval term, now obsolete, for the fixing of banners or standards to the walls of a fortress (see also ‘banner 1)’ and 'standard 4)).

The emblems, often the relevant national flag or a detail therefrom, painted on the fuselage of military aircraft to record a victory in individual combat with that enemy – victory decals (see also ‘aircraft markings’).

 Victory Markings
An Aircraft of WWII showing Victory Markings (

Please note that the practice was established in WWI, and includes victory markings applied to other pieces of military equipment as appropriate.

Victory Markings
German Artillery c1940 (

The heraldic term sometimes used when a marsh bird (or occasionally - although incorrect - a fowl) is shown with one foot raised, and (usually) holding a stone or other object.

vigilant vigilant vigilant
Flag and Arms of Wittingen-Radenbeck, Germany (fotw); Flag of Golzow, Germany (fotw)

See ‘priapic in its virility’.

Vauffelin, Switzerland Bern, Switzerland
Flag of Vauffelin, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Bern, Switzerland (fotw)

In New South Wales usage, now obsolete, the term for a plain blue flag hoisted (by the local pilot) aboard any visiting vessel prior to being boarded by a health inspector (see also ‘quarantine flag’).

visiting flag

Please note that this flag was introduced in the 1840s, but the date upon which it became obsolete is unknown at the present time.

The term used when a charge is not set in the exact geometric centre of a flag, section of flag or of the panel it occupies, or on a vertical or horizontal meridian of that flag, section or panel, but is placed as to appear so centred to the observer – but see note below (also ‘centred’, ‘meridian’, ‘optical proportions’ and ‘panel’).

Civil Ensign of Japan 1870 – 1999 Manitoba, Canada Eusoff Hall
Civil Ensign of Japan 1870 – 1999 (fotw); Flag of Manitoba, Canada (fotw); Flag of Eusoff Hall, University of Singapore (fotw)

Please note that the examples given above show the pre-1999 merchant flag of Japan with its disc set slightly towards the hoist, the arms on the flag of Manitoba placed a little below the horizontal meridian and the flag of Eusoff Hall with a charge set on the vertical meridian but above the horizontal.

The Dutch term covering any wimple/pennant flown from a flagpole – see‘wimpel 1)’ and ‘wimpel 2)’.

vlaggenstok wimpel
Royal Wimpel, The Netherlands

In heraldry see ‘ajouré’ and ‘open’ (also ‘voided’).

Void Void
Arms and Flag of São Miguel do Couto, Portugal (fotw)

A basically heraldic term that is applicable to any ordinary (or other charge) when the middle is removed so that the field of a shield or banner of arms may be seen through it (see also ‘charge 2)’, ‘cross-voided’, ‘mascle’, ‘ordinary’ and ‘pierced 2)’).

[voided examples]

Please note that in vexillology a voided cross such as shown above may, for example (and with equal accuracy) be described as “a red cross, fimbriated yellow on a red field” or similar.

In heraldry see ‘cross-voided’.

Voided cross
Flag of Nantes, France (fotw)

The term for lozenge from which the centre has been removed thus leaving an outline only – an open lozenge or lozenge-voided – see ‘lozenge’ (also ‘mascle’ and ‘voided’).

Voided lozenge - Morlanwelz Voided lozenge Voided lozenge
Flag of Morlanwelz, Belgium (fotw); Example; Banner of Arms of the Rohan-Chabot family, Josselin, France (fotw)

The alternative terms for a triangle from which the centre has been removed leaving an outline only – a triangle voided or void triangle (see also ‘voided lozenge’, ‘triangle’ and ‘voided’).

voided triangle voided triangle voided triangle
A flag of the Flemish National Union, Belgium (fotw); Low Visibility Roundel, Austria (fotw); Flag of the YMCA, Kosovo (fotw)

The French heraldic term for a pair of wings conjoined at the base and placed with the tips upwards, but sometimes used when only a single wing is shown or differently orientated – but see ‘volant’ below (also ‘conjoined 1)’, plus ‘rising’ and ‘displayed’).

vol vol vol
Flag and Arms of Šenkovec, Croatia (fotw); Air Force Flag (1937-1948), Taiwan (fotw)

The heraldic term for wings, and sometimes (but not invariably) used to signify that those wings are extended in a horizontal position as if in flight – but see note below (also ‘vol’ above, plus ‘rising’ and ‘displayed’).

[volant example] [volant example] [volant example]
Flag of Smøla, Norway (fotw); Flag of Pfäfers, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Penha de Águia, Portugal (fotw)

Please note that these two terms (vol and volant) can have a rather complex use, and we suggest that a suitable glossary or dictionary of heraldry be consulted for further details.

In the Lithuanian tradition, a cross with two (evenly sized) horizontal arms crossing the vertical - see ‘cross of Lorraine’ with its following note, and the note below.

vytis cross vytis cross vytis cross
Naval Ensign 1927 – 1940, Lithuania (fotw); Aircraft Marking, Lithuania (fotw); Flag of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania c1580 (fotw)

Please note that the Vytis (or White Knight) has been a symbol of Lithuania since the 14th Century, and that he has borne this cross on his shield from the beginning.

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