Is there a difference in using any which of those terms to call the national flag of the U.S.?

Which one is most commonly used?

The Stars and Stripes

The national flag of the U.S., consisting of 13 horizontal stripes, alternately red and white, and a blue field containing white stars representing the states. Also called Old Glory, The Star-Spangled Banner. [1782, Amer.]

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The Star-Spangled Banner

  1. Stars and Stripes.

  2. (italics) the national anthem of the United States of America, based on a poem written by Francis Scott Key on September 14, 1814, and set by him to the melody of the English song To Anacreon in Heaven: officially adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1931.

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Old Glory

The flag of the United States


  • 2
    Stars and Stripes is least likely to lead to confusion, when the context does not establish the meaning. Old Glory is what someone may call their mother-in-law, and The Star-Spangled Banner is most tightly associated with the song.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 12:42
  • Note that "the stars and stripes" concept is well known also outside the US, un drapeau avec des étoiles et des rayures, una bandiera a stelle e strisce, etc.
    – user66974
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 12:52
  • From what I know, Star-Spangled Banner refers either to the anthem, or to the specific 15-star and 15-stripe flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the British bombardment in 1814.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 13:49
  • Are you trying to avoid the common term, "American Flag"?
    – MetaEd
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 16:02
  • I'm not sure if Hot Licks calls his mother-in-law Old Glory, but that expression definitely doesn't remind me of a mother-in-law. Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


Ngram The Stars and Stripes looks the more common.

  • The Star-Spangled Banner does refer to the American flag, specifically the one flying over Fort McHenry during the attack in 1814, but it could refer to the current flag as well. The reason it's not used that frequently probably is that this particular expression is closely associated with the national anthem, not the flag itself. There is a famous march tune called The Stars and Stripes Forever as well. But since the word Forever is included, it's less likely that saying the Stars and Stripes would lead someone to think of the march, which is also less famous than the national anthem. Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 17:43

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