admiral

noun

ad·​mi·​ral ˈad-m(ə-)rəl How to pronounce admiral (audio)
1
archaic : the commander in chief of a navy
2
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

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 Lord Ozai has made Zhao an admiral and has taken over this mission — to defy him is to defy Ozai. Maggie Fremont, Vulture, 23 Feb. 2024 The number of generals and admirals involved in the coup attempt, as well as the confessions of some Kemalist officers, contradicts the government’s account of the coup atttempt as an exclusively Gulenist affair. Gonul Tol, Foreign Affairs, 27 Oct. 2016 Maverick’s dad was a pilot, Rooster’s dad (spoiler) was a pilot, and even Penny’s dad was an admiral. Jason P. Frank, Vulture, 28 May 2024 In the aftermath of the coup, over 40 percent of generals and admirals have been expelled from the force. John Butler, Foreign Affairs, 2 Aug. 2016 See all Example Sentences for admiral 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'admiral.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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.

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near admiral

Cite this Entry

“Admiral.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/admiral. Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

admiral

noun
ad·​mi·​ral ˈad-mə-rəl How to pronounce admiral (audio)
-mrəl
1
: a naval commissioned officer with a rank above that of captain
especially : an officer with a rank just above that of vice admiral
2
: any of several brightly colored butterflies
Etymology

Middle English admiral "naval commander," from early French amiral "commander" and Latin admirallus "naval commander," from Arabic amīr-al- "commander of the" (as in amīr al-'alī "supreme commander")

Word Origin
It is a curiosity of history that admiral, a word meaning "naval commander," ultimately has its source in Arabic, the language of a desert people who acquired their seafaring skills largely from the Mediterranean peoples they dominated after the great expansion of Islam in the 7th century a.d. As the name for a Muslim chieftain, the Arabic word amīr appears as a loanword in the 9th century in Medieval Latin documents, in spellings such as amiratus, admirandus, and admirallus. These words display a variety of suffixes and an extra d, through confusion with the Latin verb admirari, "to admire." The ending -allus is probably from the Arabic definite article al, which actually belongs to the following word in phrases such as amīr al-'alī, "supreme commander." The specific application of admirallus to a commander of a fleet originated in 12th century Sicily. The usage was acquired by the Genoese and then spread to the rest of western Europe, including France and England.
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