“Who is Jack?” This was a question a student asked me when we were talking about flags. The Union Jack is the name of the United Kingdom flag. But who is Jack? I honestly had no idea. So I set out to find the answer.
The Union part of the name Union Jack is easy to understand. The first version of the flag was made up of the English flag and the Scottish flag, when the two countries formed a union in 1606.
The current version of the flag also includes the Cross of Saint Patrick. This is not the official flag of Northern Ireland, but is used to represent the country in the Union Jack. Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland. This version of the flag was introduced in 1801.
Some people have suggested adding in the Welsh flag, but this idea has not really taken off.
So then, what about Jack? I looked it up online and it turns out that Jack was not a person. (Although Jack is a popular boys name these days). The word jack was used in the 1600s to mean small. The flag is traditionally called the Union Flag, but it came to be known as the Union Jack because small versions of the flag were used on ships.
As more and more people referred to the Union Flag as the Union Jack, the name Union Jack became co-official. The term Union Flag is also still used today, but it’s much more likely that you’ll hear the term Union Jack.
So there you go! There is nobody called Jack.
Information from: The Flag Institute
Activity: This article is written in an informal style and contains many phrasal verbs. Can you guess the meaning of them from the text?
- To set out (to do something)
- To be made up of
- To add in
- To take off
- To look (something) up
- To turn out
Can you match these phrasal verbs with these definitions:
A) to include B) to be composed of C) to start being popular D) to do research/ find information E) To start something F) The end result of something
For more on phrasal verbs look here