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General a military rank, in most nations the highest rank, although some nations refer to high-ranking generals as Field Marshals. The title is used by land and sometimes air forces. In the navies of the world, the rank of Admiral is equivalent. Its equivalent rank in the Royal Air Force and airforces of many Commonwealth Countries is Air Chief Marshal. It may also appear as the term "general officer".

The term began appearing around the time of the organization of professional armies in the 1600s. At first it was added as an adjective to existing names of ranks, yielding "Captain-General", "Lieutenant-General" and the like, used to distinguish the ruler's most important officers and usually made up as needed for individuals, often involving a certain amount of negotiation over precedence. Later, as part of further professionalization efforts, some of the terms, such as "Major-General" (originally "Sergeant-Major-General"), were assigned to specific ranks.

In the United States Armed Forces, "General" may mean either any rank of general officer, or the highest regular rank, which is usually referred to as full general, or four-star general, if necessary to identify it specifically. The different ranks of general are identified by the number of stars worn; a General of the Army wears five stars, a General four stars, a Lieutenant General three stars, a Major General two stars, and a Brigadier General one star.

In the British Army, a General's insignia is a crossed sword and baton. This appeared on its own for the now obsolete rank of Brigadier General. A Major General has a pip (sometimes called a "star") over this emblem; a Lieutenant General a crown instead of a pip; and a full general both a pip and a crown. The insignia for the highest rank of Field Marshal, equivalent to a five-star general has the sword replaced by second baton and this appears with a wreath surround topped by a crown.

During the American Civil War, in the Confederate military, all generals irrespective of grade, wore an insignia of three stars in a row, the middle one being slightly larger, placed in an open wreath. One exception to this was General Robert E Lee who chose to wear the insignia rank of a colonel (three stars) even after he became overall commander of the Confederate armies in 1865.

The correspondent rank for General in the Israeli Defence Forces is Rav Aluf. There can only be one active "Rav Aluf" at a time. The "Rav Aluf" rank is given only to the RAMATKAL (Chief of general staff), which is the high commander of the IDF.

See also