Where does the alternative use of "banner" come from? That is, how did it come to mean "outstanding"?

  • I've got to say I've never heard the word used in that sense. Dictionaries tell me that it is a valid meaning in North America, though. Without an example, I presume that it comes from the idea of celebrating or proclaiming a notable success: circumstances in which you'd display a banner. – JHCL Oct 2 '15 at 13:16

Banner is related to band (as in a band of cloth or a band of color across a cloth) and has long meant a distinctive flag around which a group (Dare I say "band"?) of people might rally. The OED traces the usage of banner as a flag of award and it's attributive sense of award-winning to 1840 in the US. The dictionary's cites include a "banner state," "banner plantation," and "banner crop" -- all meaning worthy of an award for excellence.

*Banner" meaning a type of newspaper headline (i.e., a band of large, distinctive type) doesn't show up (again in the US) until 1913,

  • Great. Another DBDV, a plague on this site. – deadrat Oct 2 '15 at 16:42
  • What on earth does DBDV stand for? – Holly Oct 2 '15 at 23:01
  • @HollyK Sorry, I'm kind of muttering to myself here. DBDV stands for (D)rive-(B)y (D)own (V)ote, a down vote with no explanation of what might be wrong or need improvement. It's idiosyncratic to me. – deadrat Oct 2 '15 at 23:45

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