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In a word: Gonfalon

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:

GONFALON

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A

gonfalon

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(pronounced GAHN-fu-lahn) is a flag suspended from a crosspiece instead of from an upright staff. It often ends in streamers. The word comes from the Frankish

gundfano

, "battle standard," and the Italian

gonfalone

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. The Italian is particularly appropriate because such banners were the standards of some Italian republics.

The person who bears the gonfalon is a gonfalonier.

Example:

Major Hogan to Richard Sharpe in

Sharpe's Rifles

(1993): "But now, at dawn tomorrow, with the help of my agent Commandante Teresa, who I believe you've met, I want you to seize the chapel at Torre Castro and hold it against all comers until Major Vivar has raised the gonfalon of Santiago over the chapel roof."

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