AskDefine | Define admiral

Dictionary Definition



1 the supreme commander of a fleet; ranks above a vice admiral and below a fleet admiral [syn: full admiral]
2 any of several brightly colored butterflies

User Contributed Dictionary

see Admiral



15th century. From admiral, amiral (modern amiral), from (amīr) ‘commander’ + -al. Later associated with admirable. Compare amir, emir.


  • /ˈædmərəl/ (UK)
  • IPA: WEAE /ˈæd.mɚ.l̩/


  1. A prince or Saracen leader under the Sultan.
  2. A naval officer of the highest rank; the commander of a country's naval forces.
  3. A naval officer of high rank, immediately below Admiral of the Fleet; the commander of a fleet or squadron.
  4. The ship which carries the admiral, the flagship; also, the most considerable ship of a fleet.
  5. (zoological) Any of various nymphalid butterflies of Europe and America, especially a red admiral or white admiral.


a prince or Saracen leader under the Sultan
a naval officer of the highest rank
a naval officer of high rank, immediately below Admiral of the Fleet
the ship which carries the admiral, the flagship
nymphalid butterflies of Europe and America



From sc=Arab + -al.


hr-noun m



From Dutch admiraal


  1. admiral

Extensive Definition

Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral (equivalent to full general) and above Vice Admiral and below Admiral of the Fleet/Fleet Admiral. It is usually abbreviated to "Adm." or "ADM". Where relevant, Admiral is a 4 star rank.


The word Admiral in Middle English comes from Anglo-French amiral, "commander", from Medieval Latin admiralis, "emir", admirallus, "admiral", from Arabic amir-al-, "commander of the" (as in amir-al-bahr, "commander of the sea") Crusaders learned the term during their encounters with the Arabs, perhaps as early as the 11th century. The Sicilians and later Genoese took the first two parts of the term and used them as one word, amiral, from their Catalan opponents. The French and Spanish gave their sea commanders similar titles while in Portuguese the word changed to almirante. As the word was used by people speaking Latin or Latin-based languages it gained the "d" and endured a series of different endings and spellings leading to the English spelling "admyrall" in the 14th century and to "admiral" by the 16th century.
Although temporary navies were established for engagement in naval battles beforehand, the Chinese established their first permanent, standing navy in 1132 AD, during the Song Dynasty. China's main headquarters and office for the admiral at that point was established at Dinghai, with the main base near what is now modern Shanghai.
The word Admiral has today come to be almost exclusively associated with the highest naval rank in most of the world's navies, equivalent to the Army rank of (Full) General.
The rank of Admiral has also been subdivided into various grades, several of which are historically extinct while others are used by most present day navies. The Royal Navy used colours (red, white, and blue, in descending order) to indicate the seniority of its admirals until 1864; for example, Horatio Nelson's highest rank was Vice Admiral of the White. The generic term for these naval equivalents of army generals is Flag Officer. Some navies have also used army-type titles for them, such as the Cromwellian General at Sea.

Admiral insignia by country

admiral in Azerbaijani: Admiral
admiral in Bosnian: Admiral
admiral in Bulgarian: Адмирал
admiral in Catalan: Almirall
admiral in Czech: Admirál
admiral in Danish: Admiral (søofficer)
admiral in German: Admiral
admiral in Estonian: Admiral
admiral in Spanish: Almirante
admiral in Esperanto: Admiralo
admiral in Persian: دریادار
admiral in French: Amiral
admiral in Scottish Gaelic: Àrd-mharaiche
admiral in Croatian: Admiral
admiral in Indonesian: Laksamana
admiral in Italian: Ammiraglio
admiral in Hebrew: אדמירל
admiral in Latvian: Admirālis
admiral in Hungarian: Tengernagy
admiral in Malayalam: അഡ്മിറല്‍
admiral in Malay (macrolanguage): Laksamana
admiral in Dutch: Admiraal
admiral in Japanese: 海軍大将
admiral in Norwegian: Admiral
admiral in Norwegian Nynorsk: Admiral
admiral in Polish: Admirał
admiral in Portuguese: Almirante
admiral in Romanian: Amiral
admiral in Russian: Адмирал
admiral in Albanian: Admirali
admiral in Slovak: Admirál
admiral in Slovenian: Admiral
admiral in Finnish: Amiraali
admiral in Swedish: Amiral
admiral in Vietnamese: Đô đốc
admiral in Turkish: Amiral
admiral in Ukrainian: Адмірал
admiral in Urdu: امیر البحر
admiral in Chinese: 海軍上將
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