Web Word Quests Site   

There are three search terms on this page.

vexill- (Latin: flag, standard).

banners or flags

Vexilla regis prodeunt,

Fulget crucis mysterium,

Qua vita mortem pertulit

Et morta vitam protulit.

Abroad the royal banners fly

And bear the gleaming Cross on high-

That Cross whereon Life suffered death

And gave us life with dying breath.

Vexilla regis prodeunt (the banners of the king come forth) is the title of a hymn on the Passion of Christ, written by Vanantius Fortunatus, bishop of Poitiers (died about A.D. 600) and assigned to Vespers during Passiontide.

vexillary [VEK suh ler" ee], vexillarious [vek" suh LER ee uhs]: 1. One of the oldest class of veterans in the Roman army, serving under a special standard.
2. A Roman standard-bearer; originally, a member of a special Roman military unit under a separate vexillum.
3. When used as an adjective, of or pertaining to flags.

vexillation [vek" suh LAY shuhn]: 1. In Roman antiquity, a company of troops under one vexillum, detached for special service from a main body of soldiers.
2. Later, a regular troop of calvary; also, a company of veterans of a legion.

vexillatry, vexillolatry:
Treatment, or worship, of a flag as a fetish or sacred object.

While the earliest flags were vexilloids, the emblem at the top of the staff varied. It might have been the tail of a tiger, a metal vane, a ribbon, a carved animal, a windsock of woven grasses or crude cloth, or a construction combining more than one material. Since kinship, real or imagined, constitutes the principal organizing technique of primitive societies, very frequently we find the animal from which the clan claims descent and for which it is named (that is its totem), as the chief symbol of the vexilloid. The people who carried the totem believed they derived their powers from it; hence, vexilloids very early acquired a religious significance they have never lost (page 37).

Like Roman religion, these vexilloids were not jealous or exclusivistic because official recognition was given in the Roman pantheon to the totemic vexilloids of barbarian troops serving in the Roman army. It was a matter of great surprise to the Romans when the monotheistic Jews rioted in ca. 26 A.D. upon the introduction of the sacred Roman vexilloids into the Temple on order of Pilate (pages 37-38).

[From Flags trough the Ages and Across the World,
compiled by Whitney Smith, 1975; McGraw-Hill Book Co. (UK) Limited]

A banner-bearer in a mystery or a miracle play.
A person who designs or makes flags.
An object that functions as a flag but differs from it in some respect, usually in appearance. Vexilloids are characteristic of traditional societies and often consist of a staff with an emblem, such as a carved animal, at the top.

Vexilloids of the Roman Empire were sophisticated in design and usage. Animals were used on standards until 104 B.C. when the consul Marius ordered the eagle to become the sole standard of Roman legions. Names and wreaths of honor were included on some Roman vexilloids, while in later years the emperors insisted that their portraits be used. From the word vexillum, the only cloth flag apparently carried by the Romans, is derived the word vexillology, the study of flag history and symbolism. [From Flags trough the Ages and Across the World, compiled by Whitney Smith, 1975; McGraw-Hill Book Co. (UK) Limited, side bar on page 36]

vexillogical [vek" suh LAHJ jik'l], vexillological [vek" suh luh LAHJ jik'l]: A reference to flags.

vexillologist [vek" suh LAHL luh jist]: One who studies flags.

vexillology [vek suh LAHL luh jee]: 1. The study of flags.
2. The scientific study of the history, symbolism, and usage of flags or, by extension, any interest in flags in general.

Coined by Dr. Whitney Smith, compiler of the book, Flags through the Ages and Across the World, McGraw-Hill Book Company (UK), 1975.

In his book, Dr. Smith says, "While the use of flags goes back to the earliest days of human civilization, the study of that usage in a serious fashion is so recent that the term for it (vexillology, coined by the author of this book) did not appear in print until 195
9. This has resulted in a lack of uniformity in flag terms and, worse still, a lack of source material concerning actual usage on which standardization might be based." (page 12).

vexillomania: An abnormal desire to collect and have flags.

Anyone who has an abnormal passion for collecting flags.
A fondness for studying flags and for collecting them.
A person who has a fondness for flags and/or for collecting them.
vexillum [vek SIGHL uhm]: 1. In ancient Rome, a military standard, flag, or banner; or the troops serving under a separate standard.
2. In Roman antiquity, a square flag, hanging transversely from the end of a spear by a wooden crosspiece, used especially by the calvary.
3. A company of troops serving under one standard; especially, a company of privileged veterans connected with a legion.
4. The web or vane of a feather.
5. In botany, the large upper posterior petal in a pea flower; in horticulture also called banner or standard.
6. In zoology, the weblike part of a feather; the vane.
7. In some ecclesiastical situations, a processional standard, banner, or cross.