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A chevron (also spelled cheveron, especially in older documents) is a V-shaped pattern. The word is usually used in reference to a kind of fret in architecture, or to a badge or insignia used in military or police uniforms to indicate rank or length of service, or in heraldry and the designs of flags (see flag terminology). The symbol is also used on highway signs to guide drivers around curves.
The chevron occurs in early art including designs on pottery and rock carvings. Examples can be found approximately 1800 BC in archaeological recovery of pottery designs from the palace of Knossos on Crete in the modern day country of Greece.
A chevron is one of the ordinaries in heraldry, one of the simple geometrical figures which are the chief images in many coat of arms. It can be subject to a number of modifications. When the ends are cut off in a way that looks like the splintered ends of a broken piece of wood, with an irregular zig-zag pattern, it is called éclaté. When shown as a smaller size than standard, it is a diminutive called a chevronel.
Chevron inverted: The flag of the North American Vexillological Association.
The Arms of John FitzRobert, signatory to Magna Carta, 1215
In areas observing Commonwealth of Nations or United States doctrine, chevrons are used as an insignia of enlisted or NCO rank by military forces and by police. One chevron usually designates a lance corporal, two a corporal, and three a sergeant. One to four "rockers" may also be incorporated to indicate various grades of sergeant. In American usage, chevrons typically point towards the neck; in Commonwealth usage they usually point away from the neck.
In the Commonwealth, the correct terminology for rank chevrons includes the number of stripes, called "bars", therefore, the sergeants' insignia is properly termed a "3-bar chevron".
Canadian and Australian Forces often refer to chevrons as "hooks". In the Dutch armed forces they are nicknamed "bananas".
NATO Code OR-4 Specialist/Petty Officer 3
Grenadier of the Old Guard wearing on his left shoulders two veteran chevrons representing 15 to 20 years of service
In some armies, small chevrons are worn on the lower left sleeve to indicate length of service, akin to service stripes in the U.S. military. The Israel Defense Forces use chevrons in various orientations as organisational designators on their vehicles, specifically which company within a battalion they belong to.
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