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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Common military ranks
Navies Armies Air forces
Admiral of
the Fleet
Marshal / Field Marshal Marshal of
the Air Force
Admiral General Air Marshal
Commodore Brigadier Air Commodore
Captain Colonel Group Captain
Commander Lt. Colonel Wing Commander
Lt. Commander Major / Commandant Squadron Leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight Lieutenant
Sub-Lieutenant Lieutenant Flying Officer
Ensign 2nd Lieutenant Pilot Officer
Midshipman Officer Cadet Officer Cadet
Seamen, soldiers and airmen
Warrant Officer Sergeant Major Warrant Officer
Petty Officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading Seaman Corporal Corporal
Seaman Private Aircraftman
Common Naval Ranks of the World
Flag Officers:

Admiral of the FleetFleet Admiral
Squadron AdmiralSquadron Vice-Admiral
Rear Admiral
Counter AdmiralCommodore

Senior Officers:

CaptainShip-of-the-Line Captain
Captain of Sea and WarCaptain at Sea
CommanderFrigate Captain
Lieutenant-CommanderCorvette Captain

Junior Officers:

LieutenantShip-of-the-Line Lieutenant
Sub-LieutenantFrigate Lieutenant
EnsignShip-of-the-Line Ensign
Corvette Lieutenant


Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral (equivalent to full general) and above Vice Admiral and below Admiral of the Fleet/Fleet Admiral. It is usually abbreviated to "Adm." or "ADM". Where relevant, Admiral is a 4 star rank.


History and origins

The word Admiral in Middle English comes from Anglo-French amiral, "commander", from Medieval Latin admiralis, "emir", admirallus, "admiral", from Arabic amir-al- أمير الـ, "commander of the" (as in amir-al-bahr أمير البحر "commander of the sea").[1] Crusaders learned the term during their encounters with the Arabs, perhaps as early as the 11th century. The Sicilians and later Genoese took the first two parts of the term and used them as one word, amiral, from their Catalan opponents. The French and Spanish gave their sea commanders similar titles while in Portuguese the word changed to almirante. As the word was used by people speaking Latin or Latin-based languages it gained the "d" and endured a series of different endings and spellings leading to the English spelling "admyrall" in the 14th century and to "admiral" by the 16th century.

The word Admiral has today come to be almost exclusively associated with the highest naval rank in most of the world's navies, equivalent to the Army rank of (Full) General. However, this wasn't always the case; for example, in some European countries prior to the end of World War II, Admiral was the third highest naval rank behind General Admiral and Grand Admiral.

The rank of Admiral has also been subdivided into various grades, several of which are historically extinct while others are used by most present day navies. The Royal Navy used colours (red, white, and blue, in descending order) to indicate the seniority of its admirals until 1864; for example, Horatio Nelson's highest rank was Vice Admiral of the White. The generic term for these naval equivalents of army generals is Flag Officer. Some navies have also used army-type titles for them, such as the Cromwellian General at Sea.

Admiral insignia by country

The rank insignia for an Admiral often involves four stars, but as can be seen below, there are many cases where the insignia for this four star rank do not involve four stars.

See also


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ADMIRAL, the title of the general officer who commands a fleet, or subdivision of a fleet. The origin of the word is undoubtedly Arabic. In the 12th century the Mediterranean states which had close relations with the Moslem powers on the shores or in the islands of that sea, found the title amir or emir in combination with other words used to describe men in authority; the amir-al-mumenin - prince of the faithful - or amiral-bahr - commander of the sea. They took the substantive "amir" and the article "al" to form one word, "amiral" or "ammiral" or "almirante." The Spaniards made miramamolin, out of amiral-mumenin, in the same way. "Amiral," as the name of an eastern ruler, became familiar to the northern nations during the crusades. Layamon, writing in the early years of the 13th century, speaks of the "ammiral of Babilon," and the word was for long employed in this sense. As a naval title it was first taken by the French from the Genoese during the crusade of 1249. By the end of the 13th century it had come to be used in England as the name of the officer who commanded the Cinque Port ships. The English form "admiral" arose from popular confusion with the Latin admirabilis. Such errors were naturally produced by the fantastic etymology of the middle ages. In Spain, Alphonso the Wise of Castile, in his code of laws, the Siete Partidas (Seven Divisions), accounts for the Spanish form "almirante" by its supposed derivation from the Latin admirari, since the admiral is "to be admired" for the difficulties and dangers he overcomes, and because he is the chief of those who see the wonders of the Lord in the deep- mirabilia ejus (sc. Domini) in profundo. Both in Spanish and in Elizabethan English the word has been applied to the flagship of an officer commanding a fleet or part of one. The Spanish almiranta is the ship of the second in command, and the capitana of the first. In this sense it is not uncommonly found in the narratives of Elizabethan voyages or campaigns, and it is so used by Milton in Paradise Lost - " the mast of some tall ammiral." As the title of an office it was borne by the great military, judicial and administrative officer known in France as grand amiral; in England as lord high admiral; in Spain as almirante mayor. His functions, which were wide, have been generally absorbed by the crown, or the state, and have been divided among judicial and administrative officials (see NAVY, History;

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also admiral


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Admiral m. (genitive Admirals, plural Admirale or Admiräle)

  1. admiral

Simple English

Admiral is the highest rank in a navy. The term is used internationally by many countries. It derives originally from the Arabic amīr (= commander), and comes down to us by way of Old French and Latin.[1]

Variations on the term are:

  • Admiral of the Fleet: originally, the Admiral in charge of an operational fleet, later used to designate senior status.
  • Vice-Admiral: step lower in rank than Admiral.
  • Rear-Admiral: two steps lower in rank than Admiral.
  • Admiralty: the department of government which administers the navy.
  • Admiralty Board: committee of the Ministry of Defence (UK)
  • Admiral: a butterfly of vivid colour belonging to the Nymphalid family.


  1. Concise Oxford Dictionary, 9th ed p 18.

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