in·sig·ni·a (ĭn-sĭgnē-ə) also in·sig·ne (-nē)
n. pl. insignia or in·sig·ni·as also in·sig·nes
1. A badge of office, rank, membership, or nationality; an emblem.
2. A distinguishing sign.
[Latin īnsignia, pl. of īnsigne, badge of office, mark, from neuter of īnsignis, distinguished, marked : in-, in; see IN-2 + signum, sign; see sekw-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Insignia in Latin is the plural form of insigne, but it has long been used in English as both a singular and a plural form: The insignia was visible on the wingtip. There are five insignia on various parts of the plane. From the singular use of insignia comes the plural insignias, which is also acceptable. The Latin singular insigne is largely restricted to military contexts; in other contexts, it may strike some as pedantic.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus