Definition of admiral in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈadm(ə)r(ə)l/


1The most senior commander of a fleet or navy.
Example sentences
  • In 1914 Beatty was one of the youngest admirals in the Royal Navy, and, as commander of the battle-cruiser squadron of the Grand Fleet, held one of the navy's most prestigious appointments.
  • It was as if he was planning his next move, with the subtlety and care of an admiral commanding a fleet of warships.
  • To copy correspondence, an admiral commanding an entire fleet might have two or three clerks, an aide/flag lieutenant, and occasionally a supply officer.
1.1 (Admiral) A naval officer of the second most senior rank, above vice admiral and below Admiral of the Fleet or Fleet Admiral.
Example sentences
  • HMS Portland was launched in 1999 by Lady Brigstocke, wife of the then Second Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John Brigstocke.
  • The Admiral founded the Royal Thai Naval Academy and the Marine Engineering School.
  • It is code-named Clasciaris, and is the only fleet not to be controlled by an Admiral.
1.2 short for vice admiral or rear admiral.
2 [with modifier] A butterfly which has dark wings with bold red or white markings. See red admiral, white admiral.
Example sentences
  • If you live near a park or wooded area, it may provide habitat for Mourning Cloaks, admirals, and tiger swallowtails, who will foray into your yard for nectar.
  • Another butterfly that is rarely seen is white admiral, a beautiful butterfly that spends a lot of time feeding on honeydew at the tops of trees.
  • There is often an extreme contrast between full sunshine and deep shadow, as can be seen in the photograph of the White Admiral.





Middle English (denoting an emir or Saracen commander): from Old French amiral, admirail, via medieval Latin from Arabic 'amīr 'commander' (from 'amara 'to command'). The ending -al was from Arabic -al- 'of the', used in titles (e.g. 'amīr-al-'umarā 'ruler of rulers'), later assimilated to the familiar Latinate suffix -al.

  • The first recorded meaning of admiral refers to an emir or Muslim commander, and the word ultimately comes from Arabic amir ‘commander’. The Arabic word was used in various titles of rank, such as amir-al-bahr (‘commander of the sea’) and amir-al-ma (‘commander of the water’). Christian scholars, not realizing that -al- simply meant ‘of the’, thought that amir-al was a single word meaning ‘commander’, and accordingly anglicized it as admiral. The modern maritime use comes from the office of ‘Amir of the Sea’, created by the Arabs in Spain and Sicily and later adopted by the Genoese, the French and, in the form ‘Amyrel of the Se’ or ‘admyrall of the navy’, by the English under Edward III. From around 1500 the word admiral on its own has been used as the naval term.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ad|miral

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