Definitions

from The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A long narrow banner or streamer borne upon a lance.
  • n. A pennant, banner, or flag.
  • n. A pinion; a wing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A thin triangular flag or streamer, especially as hung from the end of a lance or spear.
  • n. A pennant; a long pointed streamer or flag on a vessel.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A wing; a pinion.
  • n. A pennant; a flag or streamer.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A flag; an ensign; especially, in Europe in the middle ages, the flap; of the knight bachelor, or knight who had not yet reached the dignity of banneret. It is usually described as being pointed at the fly, but the swallow-tail flag is also described as a pennon.
  • n. In heraldry, in modern ceremonial, as at funerals, a long and narrow flag, usually from four to five feet long, on which are depicted the owner's arms or a part of them, as the crest and motto.
  • n. A pinion; a wing.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. wing of a bird
  • n. a long flag; often tapering

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French penon, streamer, feather of an arrow, augmentative of penne, feather, from Latin penna; see pet- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Anglo-Norman penun, penoun, from Old French penneĀ ("feather") + -on diminutive suffix. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The soldiery of the Rhinegrave have mutinied, plucked down the banners of their master, and set up an independent ensign, which they call the pennon of St. Nicholas, under which they declare that they will maintain peace with God, and war with all the world.

    Anne of Geierstein

  • The great standard, in the Maiden's wars, was to be used for the rallying of all her host; the pennon was a signal to those who fought around her, as guards of her body; and about the banner afterwards gathered, for prayer and praise, those men, confessed and clean of conscience, whom she had called and chosen.

    A Monk of Fife

  • A band of about thirty spearmen, with a pennon displayed before them, winded along the indented shores of the lake, and approached the causeway.

    The Abbot

  • In the midst was a pennon displayed, which, though its bearings were not visible to Catharine, was, by a murmur around, acknowledged as that of the Black Douglas.

    The Fair Maid of Perth

  • But take my advice, and whilst thou travellest under an English pennon, take heed that thou keepest off this conversation in the hall and kitchen, where perhaps the soldier may be less tolerant than the officer; and now, in a word, what is thy legend of this Dangerous

    Castle Dangerous

  • In others it seemed more entire, and a pillar of dark smoke, which ascended from the chimneys of the donjon, and spread its long dusky pennon through the clear ether, indicated that it was inhabited.

    The Monastery

  • A magnificent pile of cushions at the head of the banquet seemed prepared for the master of the feast, and such dignitaries as he might call to share that place of distinction; while from the roof of the tent in all quarters, but over this seat of eminence in particular, waved many a banner and pennon, the trophies of battles won and kingdoms overthrown.

    The Talisman

  • The central hut, which represented the pavilion of the leader, was distinguished by his swallow-tailed pennon, placed on the point of a spear, from which its long folds dropped motionless to the ground, as if sickening under the scorching rays of the Asiatic sun.

    The Talisman

  • The noble animal seemed to understand the purpose of their watch; for he looked from time to time at the rich folds of the heavy pennon, and, when the cry of the sentinels came from the distant lines and defences of the camp, he answered them with one deep and reiterated bark, as if to affirm that he too was vigilant in his duty.

    The Talisman

  • If it was thought necessary to show more clearly the nature of the conflict, it might be indicated by the pennon of Saint George being displayed at one end of the lists, and that of Saint Andrew at the Other.

    Death of the Laird's Jock

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  • "Later, the two of them had walked the high battlements above Mid-World's last living city--green and gorgeous Gilead in the morning sun, with its pennons flapping and the vendors in the streets of the Old Quarter and horses trotting on the bridle paths which radiated out from the palace standing at the heart of everything." From Wizard and Glass by Stephen King.

    January 22, 2011

  • From "A Field of Snow on a Slope of the Rosenberg" by Guy Davenport.

    January 19, 2010

  • Found in the poem 'Sea-Fret' by Robert Robertson from his collection Swithering

    '...the frayed
    pennons and bannerets
    of the tide crests,
    all this is visible now
    in the haar-light'

    December 6, 2006