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

Later, while in Ireland in 1667, tending to his father’s estate in Cork, Penn at age 23 joined the Society of Friends—much to the dismay of his father, a British admiral and famed naval war hero. Robert K. Landers, WSJ, "‘William Penn’ and ‘The Worlds of William Penn’ Review: A Trans-Atlantic ‘Holy Experiment’," 11 Jan. 2019 The passion for fairness and justice extended to our own military: When a private was poorly equipped, John enjoyed nothing more than dressing down an admiral or general. Caroline Houck, Vox, "George W. Bush honors McCain as “unwavering, undimmed, unequal”," 1 Sep. 2018 In March, Trump nominated Jackson for promotion to the rank of two-star admiral. Washington Post, "Pentagon probing allegations against White House physician," 5 June 2018 McCain will be buried on a grassy hill at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, right next longtime friend Chuck Larson, himself an admiral and ally throughout McCain’s remarkable life. Fox News, "John McCain’s former Vietnamese jailor says he always respected the late senator," 27 Aug. 2018 President Trump had nominated Dr. Jackson in March for advancement to a two-star admiral. New York Times, "Ronny Jackson, Failed V.A. Pick, Is Unlikely to Return as Trump’s Doctor," 29 Apr. 2018 Trump has put him up for a promotion from one-star to two-star admiral. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Ronny Jackson withdraws as Trump's nominee to lead Veterans Affairs," 26 Apr. 2018 For many in the West, the idea of generals and admirals fraternizing with chief executives and other elites is the stuff of nightmares. Elisabeth Braw, WSJ, "Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Military-Industrial Complex," 2 Jan. 2019 The son and the grandson of four star admirals, John came from a family that prized military service. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Vice President Mike Pence Pays Tribute to John McCain in Speech at His Memorial Service," 31 Aug. 2018

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

12 Apr 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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