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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- , "commander of the" (as in amir-al-bahr "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 Genoesemarker took the first two parts of the term and used them as one word, amiral, from their Catalanmarker opponents. The Frenchmarker and Spanishmarker gave their sea commanders similar titles while in Portuguesemarker 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.

Image:RAN-Admiral-shoulder.gif|Australian admiral

Royal Australian Navy

Image:Navy sleeve Adm.png|Canadian admiral

Canadian Forces Maritime Command

Image:Arlmirante armada chile.jpeg|Chileanmarker Admiral

Chilean Navy

Image:China-Navy-Admiral.gif|Admiral of People's Republic of Chinamarker

People's Liberation Army Navy

Image:Grade-amiral.svg|French admiral

Marine Nationale

Image:GE-NAVY-OF-9 Adm.png|German admiral

Deutsche Marine

Image:IT-Navy-OF-10.png|Italianmarker admiral

Italian Navy

Image:Almirante hombrera SEMAR.gif| Mexican admiral

Mexican Navy

Image:POL PMW pagon1 admirał.svg|Polish admiral

Marynarka Wojenna

Image:RO-Navy-OF-10s.png|Romanian admiral

Forţele Navale Române

Image:SP Almirante General.gif|Spanishmarker admiral

Armada Española

Image:Ukraine Admiral shoulderboard.svg|Ukrainianmarker admiral

Ukrainian Navy

Image:UK-Navy-OF9.svg|U.K. Admiral

Sleeve lace

Royal NavyFile:RN-Admiral-shoulder.gif|U.K. Admiral

Shoulder board

Royal Navy

Image:US Navy O10 insignia.svg|U.S. Admiral

U.S. Navy

See also


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