admiral

noun
ad·​mi·​ral | \ ˈad-m(ə-)rəl How to pronounce admiral (audio) \

Definition of admiral

1 archaic : the commander in chief of a navy
b : a commissioned officer in the navy or coast guard who ranks above a vice admiral and whose insignia is four stars — compare general
3 archaic : flagship
4 : any of several brightly colored nymphalid butterflies — compare red admiral

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Did You Know?

It is a curiosity of history that the word admiral has its source in Arabic, the language of a desert people who acquired their seafaring skills after the great expansion of Islam in the seventh century. As the name for a Muslim chieftain, the Arabic word amir appears as a loanword in medieval Latin documents in spellings such as amiratus, admirandus, and admirallus. These words display a variety of suffixes and an added d, through confusion with the Latin verb admirari, “to admire.” The ending -allus is probably from the Arabic article al, which actually belongs to the following word in phrases such as amir al-‘ali, “supreme commander.” The application of admirallus to a commander of a fleet originated in 12th-century Sicily, was adopted by the Genoese, and then spread to countries throughout western Europe, including France and England.

Examples of admiral in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The admiral is a maverick, which can be cool… but also potentially problematic. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Meet the intriguing presidential candidate you haven’t seen on the debate stage," 17 Aug. 2019 An admiral testified in a hearing that if a bridge got built, the Navy would look elsewhere to expand. San Diego Union-Tribune, "50 years later, Coronado bridge’s iconic status masks its controversial origins," 4 Aug. 2019 The first full trailer for Star Trek: Picard shows Patrick Stewart reprising his beloved role as the moral authority former Starfleet admiral — and shows the surprise return of two fan-favorites with two more to come later in the season. James Hibberd, EW.com, "Star Trek: Picard first full trailer reveals Jeri Ryan, Brent Spiner, and more alums returning," 20 July 2019 The son of a Navy admiral and the grandson of another, John Sidney McCain III was born on Aug. 29, 1936, in the Panama Canal Zone to a family that had fought in every American war since the Revolution. Siobhan Hughes, WSJ, "Sen. John McCain, a War Hero Who Became a Political Heavyweight, Dies at 81," 25 Aug. 2018 In Hawaii, Kraft found himself at the front of an amphitheater-style conference room, filled with about 100 captains and admirals, with McCain himself sitting in the middle of the front row, assiduously smoking a long cigar. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "The Greatest Leap, part 2: The 50/50 bet that won the Space Race for America," 17 July 2019 The four-star admiral set to become the Navy's top officer on Aug. 1 will instead retire, an extraordinary downfall prompted by what Navy Secretary Richard Spencer called poor judgment regarding a professional relationship. CBS News, "Four-star admiral William Moran to retire after promotion to top Navy job amid Pentagon turmoil," 8 July 2019 The four-star admiral set to become the Navy’s top officer on Aug. 1 will instead retire, an extraordinary downfall prompted by what Navy Secretary Richard Spencer called poor judgment regarding a professional relationship. chicagotribune.com, "Four-star admiral set to lead the Navy will instead retire; bad judgment regarding a professional relationship cited," 8 July 2019 When 35 ambassadors come through, the admiral shows up. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Ambassadors from 35 countries get first hand look at San Diego’s technology, defense and border security," 19 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'admiral.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of admiral

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for admiral

Middle English admirail, admiral, amiral "emir, Saracen chieftain, naval commander," borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Medieval Latin admiralis, admirallus, amiralius, borrowed from Arabic amīr-al- "commander of the," in such phrases as amīr-al-baḥr "commander of the sea" (initial adm- for am- probably by association with Latin admīrārī "to admire")

Note: From the 9th century, the Arabic word amīr, "commander," appears in Medieval Latin documents with a variety of suffixal formations, as amiratus, admirandus, and admirallus; the ending -allus in the latter form has usually been construed as the Arabic definite article al, which belongs to the following word in collocations such as amīr al-'alī, "supreme commander." The more specific application of admirallus to the commander of a fleet originated in 12th-century Norman-ruled Sicily.

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Statistics for admiral

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for admiral

The first known use of admiral was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for admiral

admiral

noun

English Language Learners Definition of admiral

: a high-ranking officer in the navy

admiral

noun
ad·​mi·​ral | \ ˈad-mə-rəl How to pronounce admiral (audio) , -mrəl\

Kids Definition of admiral

: a commissioned officer in the navy or coast guard ranking above a vice admiral

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