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
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 Joshua Watson, an ensign, was one of the three people killed in Friday’s shooting, the Navy confirmed late Saturday. Author: Katie Mettler, Marisa Iati, Derek Hawkins, Anchorage Daily News, "Among the Pensacola shooting victims: An aspiring Navy pilot and a former track star," 8 Dec. 2019 Floating in Port Hercules the other week — ensigns fluttering, halyards singing — was one of the most spectacular displays of seagoing craft ever seen: 125 superyachts with a combined value of $4.4 billion. Benjamin Stupplesbloomberg, Los Angeles Times, "How to get super rich selling superyachts," 5 Oct. 2019 Buttigieg was sworn in as an ensign in September 2009. Author: Steve Hendrix, Joshua Partlow, Anchorage Daily News, "How Pete Buttigieg went from war protester to ‘packing my bags for Afghanistan’," 29 July 2019 As the captain who gratefully received a steaming hot mug of coffee from his ensign on a ship pitching in heavy weather can attest, there is a leap of faith in accepting food from the hands of others. Judith Martin, Washington Post, "Miss Manners: Where’s that beer been?," 12 June 2019 The cast includes Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid, Noël Wells, and Eugene Cordero as the main quartet of ensigns, along with Dawnn Lewis (Hulu’s Veronica Mars revival) and Jerry O’Connell as two of the ship’s higher-ups. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "Star Trek animated series from Rick and Morty writer reveals first images, voice cast," 20 July 2019 The assaults subsided when the U.S. escorted and reflagged foreign tankers under its ensign. Max Colchester, WSJ, "U.K. Navy Thwarts Iranian Attempt to Block BP Tanker," 11 July 2019 At a commissioning ceremony Monday morning, Vice President Mike Pence swore in Priebus as an ensign, an entry-level officer. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Former Trump Chief of Staff Priebus joins Navy," 10 June 2019 Former Trump Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus was sworn in as an ensign with the Naval Reserve on Monday at a commissioning ceremony led by Vice President Mike Pence. Nina Bertelsen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Former Trump Chief of Staff, Wisconsinite Reince Priebus officially joins Naval Reserves," 10 June 2019

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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Statistics for ensign

Last Updated

31 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Ensign.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ensign. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for ensign


How to pronounce ensign (audio) How to pronounce ensign (audio)

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

Spanish Central: Translation of ensign

Nglish: Translation of ensign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ensign

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