Like so many idioms, the term false flag originated in a literal sense, eventually taking on a figurative sense. We will examine the definition of false flag, where the term came from and some examples of its use in sentences.
False flag describes an operation that is carried out by one entity or group, but is designed to look like it was executed by a different entity or group. For instance, a malware hacking that was carried out by a terrorist group but appears to have been perpetrated by a foreign government is a false flag. The term false flag is derived from a naval practice. In times past, a ship might fly a flag other than its own true flag in order to trick its way into an attack or to facilitate an escape. False flag may be used as a noun or as an adjective. The term false flag is often seen inside quotation marks, which means this is a relatively new term to most of the public.
Even if a stone is thrown at a mosque or church the world rallies around and media joins in to sensationalize the incident which has all the possibilities of being a false flag or even self-staged! (The Sri Lanka Guardian)
The Russian leader said that the hacking of the Democratic Party may have been a false flag operation staged by US intelligence in order to frame Russia. (The Daily Mail)
Jones sees “false flag” operations orchestrated by elites in many events, including the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings. (Newsweek Magazine)
Check out some others we covered:
Keeping up with the Joneses definition
Kill with kindness meaning