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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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for admiral
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The admiral, who had been quelled for the moment, burst out afresh.

    A Mock Idyl Percy Ross
  • "admiral Sampson will be glad to get you," the cadet thought to himself.

    A Prisoner of Morro Upton Sinclair
  • Him the admiral now put forward with his great crossbow and long arrows.

    1492 Mary Johnston
  • On board of the admiral's ship were 225 persons and thirty Indians.

  • No doubt he recognized that, if the admiral made a fool of himself, he would be afraid to issue warrants in soberness.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
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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