This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Dictionary of Vexillology: C (Cable Number - Captured Flag)

Last modified: 2014-05-16 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

On this page:

A code number identifying a precise shade of colour in the system developed by the Color Association of the United States, usually associated with a specific name, and used in the official specifications of US government and military flags - for example, the official specification for the Stars and Stripes require: Cable No. 70180. Old Glory Red, Cable No. 70001, White and Cable No. 70075, Old Glory Blue.

The term for a charge, particularly an anchor, that is shown complete with its cable – but see ‘foul anchor’ (also ‘charge’).

Minister of Defense - Uruguay Navy Jack - Ecuador Melide, Ticino
From left: Flag of the Minister of Defence, Uruguay (fotw); Naval Jack of Ecuador (fotw); Flag of Melide, Switzerland (fotw)

See ‘roped cross’.

Cabled cross

See ‘appendix V’.
When an animal's head is borne full-faced and with no part of the neck visible - cabossed or cabooched.

[Uri Switzerland]
Flag of Uri, Switerland (fotw)

A heraldic term for the mark of difference added to an escutcheon to indicate that the bearer is heir to the owner, or a direct descendent of the family to which the primary coat of arms belongs, or that the person is a member of a related branch of the same family – differencing.

Please note however, that the form these marks take may vary from country to country – for example – the cadency label is used on several British royal banners in deference to (although not in strict accordance with) English heraldic practice, whilst traditional Scottish heraldry is more likely to employ a bordure and other European traditions may change the colour of a charge. It is suggested therefore, that a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted for further details (see also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms’, ‘label 2)’ and ‘shield’).

[cadency marks]
The cadency marks of the 1st to the 6th son in English heraldry (Parker)

The magic wand or rod of Hermes/Mercury (patron of commerce) with two serpents wound around a winged staff; formerly also a symbol of the occult and of alchemists (amongst others), it is now more often (although by no means exclusively) associated with medical institutions – the staff of Hermes or of Mercury (see also ‘Staff of Asclepius’).

caduceus examples   caduceus examples caduceus examples
From left: Flag of the Army Surgeon General and Emblem of the Army Medical Corps, US (fotw); Flag of the Head of State Tax Administration, Ukraine (fotw)

Please note that this should not be confused with the Staff of Asclepius as referenced above, which has only one snake on an unadorned staff and is symbolic of the medical profession.

See ‘cross of Calatrava

calatrava cross
Putative Banner of the Order of Calatrava, Spain (fotw)

Every vessel at sea is allocated an international call sign consisting of at least four letters for identification purposes by any means of signalling available, including flags – see ‘call sign hoist’ below.

Please note that the current international call sign is made up of two letters identifying the country of registration and additional flags identifying the particular ship ship – but see ‘make her number’. Most navies also prescribe tactical call signs according to their own naval signal codes and which is used intra-service for operational purposes. Warships also generally hoist their international call signs at the yardarm when entering or leaving harbour (see also ‘yardarm’).

A hoist of signal flags displaying the international call sign of a civil or naval vessel – but see ‘make her number’ (also 'address group', 'call sign', ‘signal hoist’, ‘international code of signal flags’, ‘pendant number’ and ‘signal flag’).

signal flag signal flag signal flag signal flag
NZAD (November-Zulu-Alpha-Delta) in the International Code of Signal Flags and the Call Sign Hoist of USS Blair (fotw)

The heraldic term for a three or four-armed (usually but not invariably faceted) figure that represents an implement of war consisting of four spikes which, when thrown on the ground, always has one point facing upwards, and designed to injure horses – a caltrop, calthrop, cheval-trap or galtrap (see also ‘faceted’).

caltrap caltrap caltrap
Example: First Captain’s Colour, Green Trayned Band, London England c1642 (CS); Standard of the Earl of Perth, Scotland (

See ‘cross of Calvary’ in ‘appendix VIII’.

Calvary cross
Flag of Geraardsbergen, Belgium (fotw)

See ‘continental colours’.

Cambrdige flag
Cambridge Flag/Continental Colours 1775 – 1777, US (fotw)

1) An alternative term for a company colour in some regiments of British and Canadian foot guards (but see also ‘company colour’ and note below).
2) See ‘camp flag’.
3) A term, now largely obsolete, for a small military flag originally used to delineate the boundaries of a regiment's encampment and later used in some armies as a company guide flag, to mark turning points in manoeuvring troops (but see also ‘fanion 3)’).

Please note with regard to 1) that as far as is known this term is used by the British Grenadier Guards, the Grenadier Guards of Canada and the Governor General’s Foot Guards (also Canada) in place of company colour.

In the British and some other army usage, a non-ceremonial flag, often containing the relevant badge against regimental colours, and used to indicate the presence of a unit, Corps or Regiment, or the position of their headquarters, within a camp or other location – a regimental, unit or headquarters flag (see also ‘badge 3)’, ‘emblem military and governmental/departmental’ and ‘regimental colours 2)’).

British Army Air Corps British Royal Regiment of Artillery Training and Development Branch, Canada British Corps of Royal Engineers
The Army Air Corps, UK (Graham Bartram); The Royal Regiment of Artillery, UK (Graham Bartram); The Training and Development Branch, Canada (fotw); The Corps of Royal Engineers, UK (Graham Bartram)

See ‘camp colour 1)’ and ‘company colour’.

A term used when the central stripe in a vertical triband has internal proportions of 1-2-1 as in the Canadian national flag – but see note below and ‘unequal triband’ (also ‘proportions 2)’, ‘pale’, ‘triband’ and ‘tricolour’).

Canada Northwest Territories, Canada Brantford, Ontario Benátky and Jizerou, Czech Republic
National Flag of Canada (CS); Flag of North West Territories, Canada (fotw); Flag of Brantford, Canada (fotw); Flag of Benátky and Jizerou, Czech Republic (fotw) 

Please note, it is suggested that the entry on pale and/or a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted before using this term, and that if used at all it should apply only to Canadian Flags.

The flag of the Cantabrian independence movement showing a wheel-like emblem that is considered symbolic of the ancient Cantabrians of Northern Spain.

[Cantabrian Lebarum]
The Cantabrian Labarum (fotw)

Bearers of the ‘cantabrum’ - but see below.

It is proposed by some sources that this is the standard used by later Roman Emperors and believed to have been a type of vexillum (see also ‘vexillum’).

Please note - not to be confused with a cantabrian labarum (see 'cantabrian labarum').

An originally heraldic term for when the design on a shield or any quartering thereof, on a banner of arms or a flag forms a pun on the name or attributes of the entity or person represented – allusive arms or armes parlantes  (see also ‘armorial bearings’).

[Queens Mothers flag - canting] [Greifensee, Switzerland - canting]  [Brodski Stupnick flag - canting]  [Brodski Stupnick arms - canting]  [Bila Tserkva - canting]
Standard of her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, UK (fotw); flag of Greifensee, Switzerland; Flag and Arms of Brodski Stupnick, Croatia fotw); flag of Bila Tserkva, Ukraine (fotw)

The Royal Standard of HM The Queen Mother shows the Royal Arms of Great Britain impaled with quartered Bows and Lions for her family name of Bowes-Lyon,
b) The German for griffon is Greif.
c) Stupisis is the Croatian for column.
d) Bila Tserkva means white church in Ukrainian.

1) Commonly, all or part of the upper hoist – or first - quarter of a flag’s field that has not vertical divisions and/or otherwise undivided - the canton (see also ‘Appendix I’, ‘inner canton’ and ‘quarter 1)’).
2) A rectangular (or square) area of colour or design different from the field in the above position, which may occupy exactly one quarter of the flag or a larger or smaller area (see also ‘canton flag’ below, ‘covering’, ‘quarter 1)’ and 'Union’).
One of the four quarters of a flag, divided horizontally and vertically into:
  • (1) the upper hoist or upper hoist canton,
  • (2) the upper fly or upper fly canton,
  • (3) the lower hoist or lower hoist canton and
  • (4) the lower fly or lower fly canton
- corresponding to quarters one to four of a shield divided quarterly (see also ‘Appendix I’, ‘grand quarter’, ‘quarter 2)’, ‘quarterly’, ‘hoist’ and ‘fly’).
4) In heraldry as definition 2) except (although apparently of no fixed size) heraldic use frequently suggests that a canton should occupy one-third of the chief (see also ‘chief’).

[absence example] [absence example] [absence example] [absence example] [absence example]
From left: National Flag of Liechtenstein (fotw); Flag of Kelantan, Malaysia (fotw); National Flag of Liberia (fotw)

The arms of a territorial division within a country, particularly if that subdivision is called a canton – e.g., one of those cantons (regions) that make up the Swiss Confederation, or those of Bosnia-Herzegovina or Costa Rica - see ‘state arms 3)’ under ‘arms’ (also ‘cantonal flag’).

[Berne arms] [Posavina arms]
Arms of Bern, Switzerland (Wikipedia); Arms of Posavina, Bosnia-Herzegovina (fotw)

The sub-national flag of a territorial division within a country, particularly if that subdivision is is called a canton - e.g. one of the cantons which make up the Swiss Confederation, or of Bosnia-Herzegovina or Costa Rica (see also ‘cantonal arms’ and ‘sub-national flag’).

Posavina, Bosnia-Herzegovina Belen, Costa Rica
Flag of Bern, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Posavina, Bosnia-Herzegovina (fotw); Flag of Belen, Costa Rica (fotw)

The newly introduced term for a right-angled, triangular panel set with its legs (or catheti) along the hoist and upper edge of a flag as illustrated below – but see ‘triangular panel 1)’.

Posavina, Bosnia-Herzegovina Imues , Colombia
Unit Colour 67th Military Police Battalion, Croatia (Željko Heimer); Flag of Imues, Columbia (fotw)

See ‘cross cantonée’ in ‘appendix VIII’.

Cantoned cross
Flag of the Kingdom of Jerusalem c1200 (CS)

1) A term used to describe the canton of a flag, or to describe the flag itself, when its canton consists of another flag, as in for example the civil ensigns of Australia and India, and the island flag of Nevis – a nationally cantoned flag  (see also ‘armorial ensign 2)’, ‘canton 2)’, ‘canton of St. George’, ‘civil ensign’ under ‘ensign’ and ‘colonial flag’).
2) See ‘cantonal flag’.

canton flags canton flags canton flags canton flags
From left: Civil Ensign of Australia (fotw); Civil Ensign of India (fotw); War Ensign of Brunei (fotw); Flag of the Island of Nevis, St Kitts and Nevis (fotw)

The term used when a flag’s canton is formed by the red cross of St George on its white field – a St George’s canton (see also ‘canton 2)’, ‘canton flag’, ‘St George’s Cross 2)’ and ‘St. George's ensign’.

Some English Ensigns c1590 – 1707 (fotw)

See ‘badge 3)’.

Cap Badge of the Grenadier Guards, UK (Wikipedia)

An ancient symbol in the form of a soft red cap which, as a consequence of having been adopted by various revolutionary movements during the 18th century, has come to be regarded as a symbol of resistance against monarchical or imperialist oppression – a liberty, Phrygian or Scythian cap.

cap of liberty cap of liberty cap of liberty cap of liberty
Current National Emblem, Presidential Flag Afloat, and the Flag of the Army of the Andes 1817-18, Argentina (fotw); Seal from the Reverse of the National Flag of Paraguay (Mello Luchtenberg)

See ‘stand of colours 1)’ and ‘venn’.

captain's colour captain's colour captain's colour captain's colour captain's colour captain's colour
Examples of First – the Third Captain’s Colours in Venn A and Venn B, English c1641 (fotw & CS)

See ‘trophy flag’.

captured flag
Flag Captured at Blakely, Alabama 1 April 1865 (

Introduction | Table of Contents | Index of Terms | Previous Page | Next Page