Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the
nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full"
general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral zone in suppo ...
in the army, and is above
vice admiral
vice admiral
and below admiral of the fleet, or fleet admiral. In NATO, admirals have a rank code of OF-9 as a four-star rank.


The word in
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. English language underwent distinct variations and developments following the O ...
comes from Anglo-French , "commander", from Medieval Latin , . These evolved from the
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Wats ...
Amīral (أمير الـ) – Amīr (أمير), “
king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen ...
prince A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. ''Prince'' is also a title of nobility (often highest), often hereditary title, hereditary, in som ...

, chief, leader, nobleman, lord, a
governor A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the Executive (government), executive branch of a non-sovereign or sub-national level of government, ranking under the head of state. In federations, ''governor'' may be th ...
, commander, or person who rules over a number of people,”and al (الـ), the Arabic article answering to “the.” In Arabic, admiral is also represented as Amīr al-Baḥr (أمير البحر) or (البحر أمير), where al-Baḥr (البحر) means the sea. The 1818 edition of Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language, edited and revised by the Rev. Henry Todd (priest), Henry John Todd, states that the term “has been traced to the Arab. emir or amir, lord or commander, and the Greek language, Gr. ἄλιος, the sea, q. d. ''prince of the sea''. The word is written both with and without the d, in other languages, as well as our own. Barb. Lat. admirallus and amiralius. V. Ducange. Barb. Græc. ἄμηρχλιος. V. Meursii Gloss. Græco-Barbarum, edit. 1610. p. 29. Fr. admiral and amiral. Dan. the same. Germ. ammiral. Dutch, admirael or ammirael. Ital. ammiraglio. Sp. almirante. Minsheu, in his Spanish Dictionary, says ‘almiralle is a king in the Arabian language.’ Amrayl is used by Robert of Gloucester, in the sense of a prince, or governour.” The quote from John Minsheu’s Dictionarie in Spanish and English (1599), given in Johnson’s Dictionary, has been confirmed as being accurate. Additionally, the definition of Amīr (أمير), as given in Edward William Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon, concurs, in part, with Minsheu's definition, stating that the term means “One having, holding, or possessing, command; a commander; a governor; a lord; a prince, or king.” While other Greek words of the period existed to indicate “belonging to the sea,” or “of the sea,” the now obsolete Gr. ἄλιος mentioned in Johnson’s Dictionary is expressly defined as "of the sea, Lat. marinus, epith. of List of water deities, sea-gods, Nymph, nymphs, etc." Though there are multiple meanings for the Arabic Amīr (أمير), the literal meaning of the phrase Amīr al-Baḥr (أمير البحر) is “Prince of the Sea.” This position, versus “commander of the sea,” is demonstrated by legal practices prevailing in the Ottoman Empire, whereas it was only possible for Phanariots to qualify for attaining four princely positions, those being Dragoman of the Porte, grand dragoman, Dragoman of the Fleet, dragoman of the fleet, and the Voivode, voievods of Moldavia and Wallachia. Those Phanariots who attained the princely position of dragoman of the fleet served under the Ottoman admiral having administration of the Aegean Islands, Aegean islands and the Anatolian coast. Modern acknowledgement of the phrase Amīr al-Baḥr (أمير البحر) meaning “Prince of the Sea” includes a speech made in an official United States Armed Forces, U.S. military ceremony conducted in an Arabic port, and a news article published by an Arabic news outlet: On 24 May 2012, in a change of command ceremony aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), while docked at Khalifa Bin Salman Port, Bahrain, United States Marine Corps, U.S. Marine Corps General officer, Gen. Jim Mattis, James Mattis, Commander, United States Central Command, U.S. Central Command, introduced Vice admiral, Vice Admiral Mark I. Fox as “Admiral Fox, the prince of the sea, emir of the sea – to translate ‘admiral’ from the Arabic to English;” On 04 Feb 2021, in an announcement of his coronavirus-related death, the Arabic news website Saudi 24 News referred to Admiral Edmond Chagoury by the title “Prince of the Sea.” An alternate etymology proposes that the term admiral evolved, instead, from the title of Amir al-umara, Amīr al-Umarāʾ (أمير الأمراء‎). Under the reign of the Buyid dynasty (934 to 1062) of Iraq and Iran, the title of Amīr al-Umarāʾ, which means prince of princes, came to denote the Heir apparent, heir-apparent, or crown prince. This alternate etymology states that the term was in use for the Christodulus, Greco-Arab naval leaders of Norman-Arab-Byzantine culture, Norman Sicily, which had formerly been ruled by Arabs, at least by the early 11th century. During this time, the Norman Roger II of Sicily (1095–1154) employed a Greek Christian, known as George of Antioch, who previously had served as a naval commander for several North African Muslim rulers. Roger styled George in Abbasid Caliphate, Abbasid fashion as , or Amīr al-Umarāʾ, with the title becoming Latinized in the 13th century as . The Sicilians and later Genoa, Genoese took the first two parts of the term and used them as one word, , from their Crown of Aragon, Aragon opponents. The France, French and Spain, Spanish gave their sea commanders similar titles while in Portugal, Portuguese the word changed to . 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 in the 14th century and to ''admiral'' by the 16th century.

Further history

The word "admiral" has come to be almost exclusively associated with the highest Naval officer ranks, naval rank in most of the world's navies, equivalent to the army rank of general. However, this was not always the case; for example, in some European countries prior to the end of World War II, admiral was the third highest naval rank after general admiral and grand admiral. The rank of admiral has also been subdivided into various grades, several of which are historically extinct while others remain in use in most present-day navies. The Royal Navy used the colours red, white, and blue, in descending order to indicate Admiral (United Kingdom), 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 Oliver Cromwell, Cromwellian "general at sea".

Admiral insignia by country

The rank insignia for an admiral often involves four stars or similar devices, or three stripes over a broad stripe, but there are many cases where the insignia do not involve four stars or similar devices. File:AL-ARA.png, ''Almirante''
Argentine Navy File:Royal Australian Navy OF-9.svg, Admiral
Royal Australian Navy File:14.BNF-ADMF.svg, Admiral
Bangladesh Navy File:AlmirantedeEsquadra MB.png, ''Almirante-de-Esquadra''
Brazilian Navy File:18.RBrN-GEN.svg, ''Laksamana''
Royal Brunei Navy File:Cambodian Navy OF-09.svg, Admiral ()
Royal Cambodian Navy File:Canada-Navy-OF-9-collected.svg, Admiral (Canada), Admiral
Royal Canadian Navy File:PLANF-0720-GEN.png, ''海军上将''
People's Liberation Army Navy File:Almirante pala Chile.png, ''Almirante''
Chilean Navy File:Almirante Chile.png, ''Almirante''
Chilean Navy File:Rukav zimske odore admirala HRM.svg, ''admiral''
Croatian Navy File:Cuba-Navy-OF-8.svg, ''Almirante''
Cuban Navy File:Almirante EC.jpg, ''Almirante''
Ecuadorian Navy File:EgyptianNavyInsignia-Admiral-shoulderboard.svg, فريق أول
Egyptian Navy File:Mereväeadmiral.png, ''Admiral''
Estonian Navy File:Amiraali olkalaatta.svg, ''Amiraali''
Finnish Navy File:Amiraali hihalaatta.svg, ''Amiraali''
Finnish Navy File:Amiral France.png, Admiral (France), ''Amiral''
French Navy File:23.GN-ADM.svg, ''Admiral''
Gabonese Navy File:MDS 64 Admiral Trp.svg, ''Admiral''
German Navy File:MDJA 64 Admiral Trp Lu.svg, ''Admiral''
German Navy File:15-Ghana Navy-ADM.svg, ''Admiral''
Ghana Navy File:Greek-Admiral.jpg, ''Navarchos, Návarchos''
Hellenic Navy File:14-Indian Navy-ADM.svg, Admiral (India), Admiral
Indian Navy File:Pdu laksamanatni staf.png, ''Laksamana''
Indonesian Navy File:17-IIN-Daryabod-2.png, ''Daryabod'' ()
Imperial Iranian Navy File:21-Daryabod.png, ''Daryabod'' ()
Islamic Republic of Iran Navy File:IDF Navy Rav Aluf Prediction.png, ''Rav aluf'' ()
Israel Defense Forces File:IT-Navy-OF-10.png, ''Ammiraglio''
Italian Navy File:JMSDF Admiral insignia (b).svg, ''Kaishō serving as Chief of Staff''
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force File:16. KNF-GEN.svg, ''Admiral (فريق أول)''}
Kuwait Naval Force File:Laksamana insignia of Royal Malaysian Navy.png, ''Laksamana''
Royal Malaysian Navy File:19-Montenegro Navy-ADM.svg, ''Admiral''
Montenegrin Navy File:Almirante hombrera SEMAR.png, ''Almirante''
Mexican Navy File:Nigeria-Navy-OF-9.svg, Admiral
Nigerian Navy File:NOR NavyOF9.png, Admiral
Royal Norwegian Navy File:17.RNO-ADM (Sleeve).svg, Admiral
Royal Navy of Oman File:Admiral Pakistan Navy Insignia.JPG, Chief of Naval Staff (Pakistan), Admiral
Pakistan Navy File:PN ADM WhtDr.svg, Admiral
Philippine Navy File:PN ADM BlkDr-Slv.svg, Admiral
Philippine Navy File:POL PMW pagon1 admirał.svg, ''Admirał''
Polish Navy File:POR-Navy-OF9.svg, ''Almirante''
Portuguese Navy File:RO-Navy-OF-10.png, ''Amiral''
Romanian Naval Forces File:RO-Navy-OF-10s.png, ''Amiral''
Romanian Naval Forces File:1899mor-07.png, ''Адмиралъ''
Imperial Russian Navy (1884—1904) File:1904mor-20.png, ''Адмиралъ''
Imperial Russian Navy (1904—1917) File:1904mor-e20.png, ''Адмиралъ''
Imperial Russian Navy (1904—1917) File:Rus Navy FADM shoulder2.png, ''Адмирал''
Russian Navy pre 2010 File:RAF N F8-Admiral 2010–.png, ''Адмирал''
Russian Navy post 2010 File:RAF N F8-Admiral sleeve.png, ''Адмирал''
Russian Navy (sleeve) File:Almirante (Armada Española).png, ''Almirante''
Spanish Navy File:Sudan Navy - OF09.svg, ''Fariq awwal (فريق أول)''
Sudanese Armed Forces, Sudanese Navy File:SWE-NavyOF9.svg, Admiral (Sweden), ''Amiral''
Royal Swedish Navy File:Taiwan-navy-OF-9a.svg, ''二級上將''
Republic of China Navy File:RTN OF-9 (Admiral).svg, ''พลเรือเอก''
Royal Thai Navy File:Generic-Navy-O11.svg, ''Oramiral''
Turkish Navy File:Ukraine Admiral shoulderboard.svg, ''Адмірал''
Ukrainian Navy (old version) File:UAN shoulder mark 21.svg, ''Адмірал''
Ukrainian Navy (new version) File:Ukraine-Navy-OF-9.svg, ''Адмирал''
Ukrainian Navy (sleeve) File:British Royal Navy OF-9.svg, Admiral (United Kingdom), Admiral (shoulder board)
Royal Navy File:British Royal Navy (sleeves) OF-9.svg, Admiral (United Kingdom), Admiral (sleeve insignia)
Royal Navy File:US Navy O10 insignia.svg, Admiral (United States), Admiral
United States Navy File:Almirante - 2.png, ''Almirante''
Venezuelan Navy File:A VNN-OF-8.svg, ''Đô đốc''
Republic of Vietnam Navy (1955-1963) File:B VNN-OF-9.svg, ''Đô đốc''
Republic of Vietnam Navy (1964-1975) File:Vietnam People's Navy Admiral.jpg, ''Đô đốc''
Vietnam People's Navy

National ranks







Post-World War II rank is Four-star rank#Japan, ''Bakurocho taru kaishō'' or ''Vice admiral, Kaishō'' serving as Chief of Staff, Joint Staff with limited function as an advisory staff to Minister of Defense (Japan), compared to ''Kaigun-taishō'' (Imperial Japanese Navy) during 1872–1873 and 1898–1945.






United Kingdom

United States

See also

*Comparative military ranks *Laksamana, native title for naval leaders in Indonesia and Malaysia *Ranks and insignia of officers of NATO Navies *Admiralty (disambiguation), Admiralty *Nebraska admiral *Isabel Barreto, the first female admiral.



External links

* * {{Authority control Naval ranks Admirals,