Etymology
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guidon (n.)

"small flag," originally one borne by a military unit to direct movements, 1540s, from French guidon (16c.), from Italian guidone "battle standard," from guidare "to direct, guide," from Old Provençal guidar "to guide," from Proto-Germanic *witanan "to look after, guard" (from PIE root *weid- "to see"). Compare guide (v.).

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palmetto (n.)

type of fan-leaf palm, 1580s, from Spanish palmito "dwarf fan palm tree," diminutive of palma "palm tree," from Latin palma (see palm (n.2)). The suffix was subsequently Italianized. The Palmetto Flag was an emblem of South Carolina after secession (1860); the state was called Palmetto State from at least 1837.

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standard (n.1)
mid-12c., "flag or other conspicuous object to serve as a rallying point for a military force," from shortened form of Old French estandart "military standard, banner." According to Barnhart, Watkins and others, this is probably from Frankish *standhard, literally "stand fast or firm," a compound of unrecorded Frankish words cognate stand (v.) and hard (adj.). So called because the flag was fixed to a pole or spear and stuck in the ground to stand upright. The other theory [OED, etc.] calls this folk-etymology and connects the Old French word to estendre "to stretch out," from Latin extendere (see extend). Some senses (such as "upright pole," mid-15c.) seem to be influenced by if not from stand (v.). Standard-bearer in the figurative sense is from 1560s.
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blackjack (n.)
used in various senses since 16c., earliest is possibly "tar-coated leather jug for beer" (1590s), from black (adj.) + jack in any of its many slang meanings. From 1867 as "pirate flag." The hand-weapon so called from 1889; the card game by 1900.
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Jolly Roger (n.)

pirate flag, attested under that name by 1724, of unknown origin; jolly here has its otherwise obsolete sense "high-hearted, gallant."  Also see Roger, the sense of which here is, again, uncertain. A glossary of Banffshire words compiled by the Rev. Walter Gregor and published in 1866 gives a definition of Rodger as "anything of its kind large and ugly," also "Any animal big and ugly," also "A big person of rude manners." It also has a verb rodger "to beat with violence." Perhaps there is a connection.

Their Black-Flag, under which they had committed abundance of Pyracies, and Murders was affix'd to one Corner of the Gallows ; It had in it the Portraiture of Death, with an Hour Glass in one Hand, and a Dart in the other striking into a Heart, and Three Drops of Blood delineated as falling from it : This Flag they call'd Old Roger, and used to say, They would live and die under it. [from a description of the execution of 26 pirates in Rhode Island July 26, 1723, in Historical and Political Monthly Mercury, November 1723]

For the use of jolly, compare Jolly robin "handsome or charming man, gaily dressed man, carefree dandy" (late 14c.) also French roger-bontemps "jovial, carefree man" (15c.).

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canton (n.)

1530s, "corner, angle," from French canton "angle, corner (of a room); piece, portion of a country" (13c.), from Italian (Lombard dialect) cantone "region," especially in the mountains, augmentative of Latin canto "section of a country," literally "corner" (see cant (n.2)).

From 1570s as a term in heraldry and flag descriptions. From c. 1600 as "a subdivision of a country;" applied to the sovereign states of the Swiss republic from 1610s.

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bunting (n.1)
"light woolen stuff loosely woven, flag-material," 1742, of uncertain origin; perhaps from a dialectal survival of Middle English bonting "sifting," verbal noun from bonten "to sift," because cloth was used for sifting grain. The Middle English verb is via Old French, from Vulgar Latin *bonitare "to make good," from Latin bonus "good" (see bonus).
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battle (n.)

"fight or hostile engagement between opposing forces," c. 1300, from Old French bataille "battle, single combat," also "inner turmoil, harsh circumstances; army, body of soldiers," from Late Latin battualia "exercise of soldiers and gladiators in fighting and fencing," from Latin battuere "to beat, to strike" (see batter (v.)).

Battle-cry is from 1812; battle-flagfrom 1840; battle-scarred is from 1848. Phrase battle royal "fight involving several combatants" is from 1670s.

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blue peter (n.)

a nautical term for a blue flag having a white square in the center, hoisted at the fore royal masthead as a signal to report on board as the vessel is about to go to sea, attested by c. 1800, from blue (adj.1), but the significance of peter is uncertain and disputed. Two common guesses are that it is an abbreviation of repeater or that it stands for French partir

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saltire (n.)

c. 1400, sautour, an ordinary that resembles a St. Andrew's Cross on a shield or flag, consisting of a bend dexter and a bend sinister crossing each other, from Old French sautoir, sautour, literally "stirrup," and directly from Medieval Latin saltarium, from neuter of Latin saltatorius "pertaining to leaping," from salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.)). The connection between a stirrup and the diagonal cross is perhaps the two deltoid shapes that comprise the cross.

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