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[ad-mer-uh l] /ˈæd mər əl/
the commander in chief of a fleet.
a naval officer of the highest rank.
a naval officer of a high rank: the grades in the U.S. Navy are fleet admiral, admiral, vice-admiral, and rear admiral.
Obsolete. the flagship of an admiral.
British. a master who directs a fishing fleet.
any of several often brightly colored butterflies of the family Nymphalidae, as Vanessa atalanta (red admiral)
Origin of admiral
1175-1225; Middle English, variant of amiral < Old French < Arabic amīr al commander of the; -d- < Medieval Latin admīrābilis mundī for Arabic amīr al-mu'minīn commander of the faithful; or with replacement of a-5 by ad-, as in administer
Related forms
admiralship, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for admiral
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The admiral is coming, and some brother officers who would be pleased to know you.'

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • They said, the gentleman who presided, was a Sir Borlase Warren, the admiral on the station.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • Among the officers who came and spoke to us, was an admiral, Sir Isaac Coffin.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • These consisted of a family, of which the head was said to be, or to have been, an admiral in the Dutch navy.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • Our own doctor being dead, that of the admiral's ship was sent for to visit the sick.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
British Dictionary definitions for admiral


the supreme commander of a fleet or navy
Also called admiral of the fleet, fleet admiral. a naval officer of the highest rank, equivalent to general of the army or field marshal
a senior naval officer entitled to fly his own flag See also rear admiral, vice admiral
(mainly Brit) the master of a fishing fleet
any of various nymphalid butterflies, esp the red admiral or white admiral
Derived Forms
admiralship, noun
Word Origin
C13: amyral, from Old French amiral emir, and from Medieval Latin admīrālis (the spelling with d probably influenced by admīrābilis admirable); both from Arabic amīr emir, commander, esp in the phrase amīr-al commander of, as in amīr-al-bahr commander of the sea
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for admiral

c.1200, "Saracen commander," from Old French amirail (12c.) "Saracen military commander; any military commander," probably ultimately from Arabic title amir-ar-rahl "chief of the transport," officer in the Mediterranean fleet, from amir "leader;" influenced by Latin ad-mirabilis (see admire).

Italian form almiraglio, Spanish almirante are from confusion with Arabic words in al-. Meaning "highest-ranking naval officer" is from early 15c. As a type of butterfly, from 1720, possibly a corruption of admirable.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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