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
. It is usually abbreviated to "Adm." or "ADM". Where relevant, Admiral is a 4 star rank
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") 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
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.
Although temporary navies were established for engagement in naval battles beforehand, the Chinese established their first permanent, standing navy in 1132 AD, during the Song Dynasty. China's main headquarters and office for the admiral at that point was established at Dinghai, with the main base near what is now modern Shanghai.
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.
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