red admiral


See under admiral(def 6).

Nearby words

  1. recuse,
  2. recyclable,
  3. recycle,
  4. recycling,
  5. red,
  6. red alder,
  7. red alert,
  8. red alga,
  9. red algae,
  10. red and the black, the

Origin of red admiral

First recorded in 1830–40


[ 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 formsad·mi·ral·ship, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for red admiral


/ (ˈædmərəl) /


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 flagSee also rear admiral, vice admiral
mainly British the master of a fishing fleet
any of various nymphalid butterflies, esp the red admiral or white admiral
Derived Formsadmiralship, noun

Word Origin for admiral

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


a nymphalid butterfly, Vanessa atalanta, of temperate Europe and Asia, having black wings with red and white markingsSee also white admiral
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

Word Origin and History for red 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