For example, in the image below (the green shape), what is this called?

bookmark shape

It is like the bottom of a traditional bookmark, the ribbon of a medal, or a snake's forked tongue. Does anybody know if there a single word to describe this shape? Maybe it's just 'ribbon' but that doesn't specify the pointy edges. Thanks in advance.

For context, it is part of a design I am working on and need a term to describe this element which is used throughout the design. If theres a heraldic or geometric term that's fine. I am hoping to be able to use a word for it (instead of the 'bookmark thingy') and other people realise I am talking about this particular shaped element. Plus, I am interested to know if there is actually a word for this particular shape which there surely must be, but I've never heard it.

  • A little more context would help. Do you want a geometrical term, for example? A heraldic term?
    – TRomano
    Nov 26 '14 at 13:08
  • @TRomano - sorry, - yes edited to include more context
    – Alo
    Nov 26 '14 at 13:19

The shape pattern can be described as swallowtail (or tailcoat).

1 : a deeply forked and tapering tail (as of a swallow)
2 : tailcoat
(Source: Merriam-Webster)

The shape itself appears to me to be a kind of pennant.

: any of various nautical flags tapering usually to a point or swallowtail and used for identification or signaling
(Source: Merriam-Webster)

Wikipedia has an entry for a swallowtail as it pertains to flags.

In flag terminology, a swallowtail is either

  • a V-shaped cut in a flag that causes the flag to end in two points at the fly; or
  • any flag which has this V-shaped cut.

    The name comes from the forked tail that is a common feature of the swallow species of birds.

  • enter image description here

    I just want to make a short note about dovetail, since it is mentioned in comments below. A dovetail is a common reference to a type of joint that is known for doing a great job at keeping two pieces of wood together (usually at a corner).
    picture of a dovetail joint
    The tail of a dove when in flight is wide at the base and tapers into the bird, which describes the shapes involved in the dovetail joint.
    enter image description here
    In other contexts, dovetail may refer to interleaving or joining things together.

    (All images were sourced from Wikipedia).

    • I was going to suggest dovetail as well; a Google Image search on dovetail banner confirms this usage in the wild.
      – choster
      Nov 26 '14 at 22:05
    • @choster: However, dovetail by itself is almost the opposite of forking.
      – jxh
      Nov 26 '14 at 22:17
    • @jxh Funny, isn't it? Anyone who's actually seen a dove, or owned dovetailed woodwork should know that it's not this shape, but maybe people see two tails instead of just one that is split and ignore the rest. Swallowtail is the proper vexillological term, and a Google search on swallowtail flag turns up flags of the right shape. But Swallowtail banner turns up banners with swallowtail butterflies for me. I understand the swallowtail shape, but that's because I grew up not far from Mission San Juan Capistrano.
      – choster
      Nov 26 '14 at 22:28
    • I think the best answer for my purposes has to be swallowtail. There are some good diverse answers on here, but it's one I could use and be confident other people would know what I am referring to. Thanks also for the detailed and illustrative answer!
      – Alo
      Nov 27 '14 at 10:47

    You could use bifurcate or bifurcated.

    The symbol you include looks more notched than forked to me.

    • That is far too general to give an idea that you are talking about this particular figure/image/symbol.
      – Drew
      Nov 26 '14 at 19:20
    • This is definitely describing the shape, and a word I have never heard before. I don't think it would work for my purposes but may well be useful for others.
      – Alo
      Nov 27 '14 at 10:50

    I would use the same word you did and call it "a forked figure"

    forked - shaped like a fork or having a forked part. Merriam-Webster

    examples: a forked road, a forked tail, a forked tongue, a forked tree, etc.

    • Forked figure brings to mind many other images that are completely different from this one.
      – Drew
      Nov 26 '14 at 19:19

    I would just use "ribbon" in this context.

    This shape is commonly just called a "ribbon" in the context of web design and site usage. It's a very popular design element currently, as a search for "web design ribbon" will reveal (for example, here is a page of 21 Examples of Ribbon Web Design).

    My workplace, a library, uses a ribbon on its public website. We simply call it a "ribbon" when directing people to click on it. I have neither encountered nor been able to locate a heraldic or geometric term that describes this specific shape, and if there were such a term, I would expect it to be very obscure. An obscure word will not be very helpful in identifying the shape to your site users, who are likely to have never encountered the word before. "Ribbon" is a familiar word and, again, has an established history of use in this context.

    If you would like to make it really clear, you could refer to it as a "ribbon icon," "ribbon symbol," or other two word term -- but I don't think there's another single word that is well-known to the general public (if a single word exists at all).

    • +1 - Yes, maybe. Except for the fact that Microsoft, in many of its products (e.g. Office) now uses the term "ribbon" for something entirely different. Since MS is a heavy gorilla, many people will think of this when they see the term used in connection with UI. You can fix that by qualifying your use of the term, making it clear that this is a ribbon icon or glyph or some such.
      – Drew
      Nov 26 '14 at 19:18
    • 1
      Yes, I agree Ribbon could be used but there can be a variety of ribbon endings - with either inward or outward pointy bits. I would have used this had it not been for swallowtail, which describes the shape more precisely in my opinion.
      – Alo
      Nov 27 '14 at 10:51

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