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.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.