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Colours are normally described with common names, such as "red", but may be further specified using colorimetry.

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When blown by the wind, flags are subject to wave-like motions that grow in amplitude along the length of the flag. This is sometimes ascribed to the flag pole giving vortex shedding however, flags that are held by lanyards also can be seen to flap.

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The colours of the flags can also be used to communicate. For example a white flag means, among other things, surrender or peace, a red flag can be used as a warning signal, and a black flag can mean war, or determination to defeat enemies.

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In antiquity, field signs or standards were used in warfare that can be categorized as vexilloid or 'flag-like'. Examples include the Sassanid battle standard Derafsh Kaviani , and the standards of the Roman legions such as the eagle of Augustus Caesar 's Xth legion , or the dragon standard of the Sarmatians the latter was let fly freely in the wind, carried by a horseman, but judging from depictions it was more similar to an elongated dragon kite than to a simple flag.

Signal flag "India" (a black circle on a yellow square) is frequently used to denote a "blackball" zone where surfboards cannot be used but other water activities are permitted.

Several countries (including the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union ) have had unique flags flown by their armed forces , rather than the national flag.

When the World Federation of the Deaf adopted its own flag, [67] this action caused some controversy within the deaf community due to the popularity of another flag which was already being flown by many deaf people and related organisations.

Additionally, a railroad brakeman will typically carry a red flag to make his or her hand signals more visible to the engineer. Railway signals are a development of railway flags. [69]

One of the most popular uses of a flag is to symbolize a nation or country. Some national flags have been particularly inspirational to other nations, countries, or subnational entities in the design of their own flags. Some prominent examples include:

Flags can play many different roles in religion. In Buddhism , prayer flags are used, usually in sets of five differently coloured flags. Many national flags and other flags include religious symbols such as the cross, the crescent, or a reference to a patron saint. Flags are also adopted by religious groups and flags such as the Jain flag , Sikh flag and the Christian flag are used to represent a whole religion.