Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest
navalofficers. It is usually considered a full admiral (equivalent to full general) and above Vice Admiraland below Admiral of the Fleet/ Fleet Admiral. 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") [ [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/admiral Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary] ]
Crusaders learned the term during their encounters with the Arabs, perhaps as early as the 11th century. The Siciliansand 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 Latinor 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 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 Navyused 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 Generalat Sea.
Admiral insignia by country
Comparative military ranks
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