en·​sign | \ ˈen(t)-sən How to pronounce ensign (audio) also ˈen-ˌsīn for senses 1, 2, & 3a How to pronounce ensign (audio) \

Definition of ensign

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
2a : a badge of office, rank, or power
b : emblem, sign
3a : 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 He was commissioned an ensign in 1963, and served aboard the USS Constellation as a nuclear weapons officer. Frederick N. Rasmussen, Baltimore Sun, 7 Apr. 2022 Melvin washes out, whereas Connell would become an ensign and train new recruits in New Orleans. Gemma Sieff, Harper’s Magazine , 4 Jan. 2022 After initially saying Kazuo was dead, the navy sent a higher-ranking officer to confide that the ensign was missing. Chieko Tsuneoka, WSJ, 7 Dec. 2021 Cervantes could have made the ensign read the manuscript aloud to the licentiate. Phil Klay, Harper's Magazine, 23 Nov. 2021 On Friday, the day after Veterans Day, Ouellette will graduate top of her class from the U.S. Navy’s Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, as an ensign. Lori Riley, courant.com, 10 Nov. 2021 In June 1954, Rumsfeld graduated and was commissioned an ensign in the Navy. Robert Burns, ajc, 1 July 2021 In June 1954, Rumsfeld graduated and was commissioned an ensign in the Navy. Robert Burns, ajc, 1 July 2021 In June 1954, Rumsfeld graduated and was commissioned an ensign in the Navy. Robert Burns, ajc, 1 July 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ensign.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of ensign

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ensign

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

Learn More About ensign

Time Traveler for ensign

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near ensign



ensign armorial

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for ensign

Last Updated

15 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ensign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ensign. Accessed 22 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for ensign


en·​sign | \ ˈen-sən, 1 is also -ˌsīn \

Kids Definition of ensign

1 : a flag flown as the symbol of nationality
2 : a commissioned officer of the lowest rank in the navy or coast guard

More from Merriam-Webster on ensign

Nglish: Translation of ensign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ensign


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!