Skip to main content

Difference between Fly the flag and Keep the flag flying

fly the flag

1. (of a ship) be registered to a particular country and sail under its flag:

  • Swearing an oath to revenge … he resolved to plunder any ship flying the flag of Spain.

2. (also: show the flag ) represent one’s country, etc. (by attending an event):

  • Without their assistance, there would have been far fewer UK delegates at the meeting to “fly the flag.”

Note: The expression does not correlate in meaning with the phrase fly the wrong flag—(corporate culture) behave or act in a manner deemed inappropriate:

  • I was not aware that wearing open-toed shoes to work was tantamount to flying the wrong flag.

keep the flag flying

1. refuse to succumb; show continued commitment:

  • It’s been quite a challenge for the few remaining teachers to keep the flag flying.

2. = fly the flag 2:

  • The British delegation led by John Davis kept the flag flying! All in all it was like meeting old friends…