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

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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 Commissioned as an ensign in the Navy in 1952, he was attached to a squadron on the carrier Philippine Sea during the Korean War, and then got a similar assignment, on the Ticonderoga, after the Vietnam War started. John Wilkens, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Ernest ‘Mel’ Moore Jr., POW who survived six years in ‘Hanoi Hilton,’ dies at 91," 30 Nov. 2020 In 2019, Vice President Mike Pence swore in Priebus as an ensign in the Navy Reserve—a rank usually reserved for recent college graduates rather than 47-year-old political operatives. Emma Roller, The New Republic, "How Wisconsin Became a Bastion of White Supremacy," 5 Oct. 2020 The ensign of Hashd al-Shaabi, an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group, also features, while the blue-and-white flag of Israel burns. Amir Ahmadi Arian, The New York Review of Books, "The Martyrdom of Soleimani in the Propaganda Art of Iran," 30 Sep. 2020 Following the attack on black parishioners by a white supremacist in a South Carolina church, all of Mississippi's public universities and many cities have stopped flying the ensign. Kate Smith, CBS News, "Mississippi to remove state flag, the last to display the Confederate battle emblem," 29 June 2020 This tragedy by William Shakespeare is the story of a Venetian soldier and ensign who was passed over for promotion by Othello, a Moorish nobleman who has reached the pinnacle of his career. Gege Reed, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville's 'virtual' shows this week: 'Othello,' Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto & more," 2 July 2019 Their initial success did not mean these groundbreaking black ensigns would be spared future slights. Dan C. Goldberg, Time, "How the U.S. Navy’s First Black Officers Helped Reshape the American Military," 19 May 2020 Russ Hathaway, an All-Big Ten center in 1917, became an ensign in the Navy, stationed in Pelham Bay, N.Y. The same with Elliot Risley, IU’s star end. Jon Blau, Indianapolis Star, "The story of 1918 IU football, amid the ‘flu’ epidemic," 27 Mar. 2020 Rows of long buildings sit behind a gate where three flags flutter: the company ensign and a Chinese flag, but also a South Korean one, reflecting the parent company’s home base. Anna Fifield, Washington Post, "China compels Uighurs to work in shoe factory that supplies Nike," 29 Feb. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for ensign

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Ensign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ensign. Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for ensign



English Language Learners Definition of ensign

: an officer of the lowest rank in the U.S. Navy
: a flag that is flown on a ship to show what country the ship belongs to


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on ensign

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ensign

Nglish: Translation of ensign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ensign

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