AskDefine | Define generalissimo

Dictionary Definition

generalissimo n : the officer who holds the supreme command; "in the U.S. the president is the commander in chief" [syn: commander in chief]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A supreme commander of the armed forces of a country, especially one who is also a political leader

Extensive Definition

Generalissimo or Generalissimus is a military rank of the highest degree, superior to a Field Marshal or Grand Admiral.


The word "generalissimo" comes from the (latin) Italian generale, general, plus the suffix -issimo, meaning "utmost, to the highest grade". The rank was historically given to a military officer leading an entire army or the entire armed forces, only subordinated to the Sovereign. The contemporary use of "generalissimo", has in the English language come to refer to a military officer who has obtained political power by a military coup, or in some cases one who has suspended pre-existing constitutional mechanisms in order to retain power by means of a military hierarchy. For example Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were not generalissimos, but other generalissimos were subordinated to them.

Famous historical generalissimos

Republic of China



The Holy Roman Empire / Austrian Empire



Russia and the Soviet Union

There were four holders of the Russian rank or title "generalissimus" prior to the 20th century. Menshikov both commanded military forces and ruled absolutely; two others, Aleksei Shein and Aleksandr Suvorov, were principally field commanders rather than political figures, and hence are listed below. Anthony Ulrich II, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1714–1776), was appointed generalissimus by his wife Anna Leopoldovna but neither commanded nor ruled.

Kingdom of Spain

For a time Baldomero Espartero and the Prince of the Peace, Manuel Godoy, were called generalissimo.



United Kingdom

United States of America

On October 11, 1976, by Act of Congress, Washington was posthumously appointed to the grade of "General of the Armies of the United States". The appointment was backdated to July 4, 1776 and was a designation that, by law, made George Washington the most-senior United States military officer.


Other Italians

See also


generalissimo in Bulgarian: Генералисимус
generalissimo in German: Generalissimus
generalissimo in Spanish: Generalísimo
generalissimo in Croatian: Generalissimus
generalissimo in Hebrew: גנרליסימו
generalissimo in Georgian: გენერალისიმუსი
generalissimo in Lithuanian: Generalisimas
generalissimo in Macedonian: Генералисимус
generalissimo in Dutch: Generalissimo
generalissimo in Japanese: 大元帥
generalissimo in Polish: Generalissimus
generalissimo in Portuguese: Generalíssimo
generalissimo in Romanian: Generalisim
generalissimo in Russian: Генералиссимус
generalissimo in Finnish: Generalissimo
generalissimo in Thai: จอมทัพ
generalissimo in Vietnamese: Đại Thống chế
generalissimo in Ukrainian: Генералісимус
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