admiral

noun
ad·​mi·​ral | \ˈad-m(ə-)rəl \

Definition of admiral 

1 archaic : the commander in chief of a navy

2a : flag officer

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

Jackson, a Navy admiral with very little management experience, faced mounting concerns in the Senate over allegations of misconduct. Alex Ward, Vox, "Trump names Robert Wilkie as the next veterans affairs secretary," 18 May 2018 Jackson, a one-star Navy admiral whose tenure at the White House spans three administrations, has been criticized as too inexperienced to take on the monumental task of leading an organization comprising more than 360,000 employees. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Ronny Jackson withdraws as Trump's nominee to lead Veterans Affairs," 26 Apr. 2018 Japanese troops recovered Yamamoto's body, cremated it and sent his ashes back to Japan, where the admiral was given a state funeral. CBS News, "WWII research team marks death of Pearl Harbor mastermind," 16 Apr. 2018 Now the admiral is proposing to more barracks for another 960 nine-month-stay prison guards. Carol Rosenberg, miamiherald, "Blue is the new orange as Guantánamo preps for new prisoners, maybe ISIS fighters," 20 June 2018 Haspel's opponents included more than 100 retired admirals and generals, who said her role in the CIA's use of torture would encourage foreign governments to torture American soldiers and provide propaganda for extremists who want to attack the USA. Erin Kelly, USA TODAY, "Senate panel votes to endorse Gina Haspel as first female CIA director," 16 May 2018 The Senate Armed Services Committee, which is considering Jackson's promotion in the Navy to become a two-star admiral, is aware of the incidents, according to sources familiar with the matter. Manu Raju, CNN, "Exclusive: Pence's doctor alerted WH aides about Ronny Jackson concerns last fall," 30 Apr. 2018 The secretary of the Navy added US Sen. John McCain’s name Thursday to a warship that had already been named for the Arizona lawmaker’s father and grandfather, both former Navy admirals. Ken Moritsugu, BostonGlobe.com, "US Navy dedicates Japan-based destroyer to McCain," 13 July 2018 In early May leaked American intelligence added some fine detail to the admiral’s picture. The Economist, "China has put missiles on islands in the South China Sea," 10 May 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

8 Nov 2018

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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, -mrəl\

Kids Definition of admiral

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on admiral

Spanish Central: Translation of admiral

Nglish: Translation of admiral for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of admiral for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about admiral

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