ensign

noun

en·​sign ˈen(t)-sən How to pronounce ensign (audio)
also for senses 1, 2, & 3a
ˈen-ˌsīn How to pronounce ensign (audio)
1
: a flag that is flown (as by a ship) as the symbol of nationality and that may also be flown with a distinctive badge added to its design
2
a
: a badge of office, rank, or power
b
3
a
: an infantry officer of what was formerly the lowest commissioned rank
b
: a commissioned officer in the navy or coast guard ranking above a chief warrant officer and below a lieutenant junior grade

Examples of ensign in a Sentence

that ensign of tutorial authority, the hickory stick fittingly, the organization promoting the welfare of marine life features a dolphin on its ensign
Recent Examples on the Web As ensign, Finnegan worked as a division officer, overseeing the work of a crew of seamen and petty officers in a specific division. Kylie Martin, Detroit Free Press, 10 Sep. 2023 Among them were the blue ensign of Australia and the two banners of its Indigenous peoples. Michael E. Miller, Washington Post, 20 Oct. 2023 In the new season, several of the characters receive promotions, from lowly ensigns to only slightly less lowly lieutenants junior grade. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 7 Sep. 2023 When Japan invaded the Chinese province of Manchuria in September 1931, an ensign in the United States Naval Reserves, looking to support the Chinese military, visited Chung at her practice. Nina Chhita, New York Times, 18 Sep. 2023 With the naval ensign of Italy flag waving rapidly at the boat's bow, the couple take in the splendid views of the Mediterranean coast. Alexis Jones, Peoplemag, 2 Sep. 2023 After completing the courses, Princess Leonor will be a lieutenant in the Army, Air Force and Space command, as well as an ensign in the Navy, and could continue to college like her dad did. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 17 Aug. 2023 Peering over the shoulder of an ensign in the upper-left-hand corner of the canvas, this Hals is simply one member of the company, his marginal placement and muted coloring affirming his subordination to the whole (see illustration below). Ruth Bernard Yeazell, The New York Review of Books, 2 Mar. 2023 After serving as an ensign in the Navy during World War II, Dr. Berg graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1948. Don R. Hecker, New York Times, 21 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ensign.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English ensigne, sign, token, banner, from Anglo-French enseigne, from Latin insignia insignia, flags

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ensign was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near ensign

Cite this Entry

“Ensign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ensign. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

ensign

noun
en·​sign ˈen(t)-sən How to pronounce ensign (audio)
in senses 1 & 2 also
ˈen-ˌsīn How to pronounce ensign (audio)
1
: a flag flown as the symbol of nationality (as on a ship)
2
: a badge of office, rank, or power
3
: a naval commissioned officer of the lowest rank

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