colonel

noun
col·​o·​nel | \ ˈkər-nᵊl How to pronounce colonel (audio) \

Definition of colonel

1a : a commissioned officer in the army, air force, or marine corps ranking above a lieutenant colonel and below a brigadier general
2 : a minor titular official of a state especially in southern or midland U.S. used as an honorific title

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Other Words from colonel

colonelcy \ ˈkər-​nᵊl-​sē How to pronounce colonel (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

English colonel is pronounced the same as kernel. This seems odd, but there is an explanation. In many languages when a word contains two identical or similar sounds, one of these sounds will often change over a period of time. This kind of change is called dissimilation. So when the Italian word colonello was taken into French, it became coronel; and the word was borrowed by the English from the French in this form. Later the spelling colonel came to be used in order to reflect the Italian origin of the word. But by then the pronunciation with r was well established.

Examples of colonel in a Sentence

He retired as a colonel in the air force.
Recent Examples on the Web Raul Castro's son Alejandro is a colonel in Cuba's Interior Ministry and his daughter Mariela runs a government center promoting LGBTQ rights. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, "Cuba's Raul Castro prepares to step down, ending the era of his famous clan at the country's helm," 15 Apr. 2021 Birx was a colonel in the U.S. Army and previously served at the ambassador level as the U.S. Global Aids coordinator before she was thrown into the national spotlight as the White House COVID response coordinator under Trump. Elizabeth Thompson, Dallas News, "Deborah Birx, ex-White House COVID response coordinator, joins George W. Bush Institute in Dallas," 12 Mar. 2021 In the 18th century, the property was owned by Arnoldus Vanderhorst, who served as a colonel in the Revolutionary War. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, "An 1800s-Era South Carolina Estate With a Modern Party Space Asks $21 Million," 3 Mar. 2021 Dyck is a former Zimbabwean military colonel in his 70s who made his name leading de-mining teams and anti-poaching units since retiring from military service. David Mckenzie, CNN, "Leader of mercenary group in Mozambique says that ISIS-linked insurgents hold Palma," 30 Mar. 2021 The three-men, one-woman crew led by Commander Mike Hopkins, an Air Force colonel, named their capsule Resilience in a nod not only to the pandemic, but also racial injustice and contentious politics. The Salt Lake Tribune, "SpaceX launches 2nd crew, regular station crew flights begin," 16 Nov. 2020 The three-men, one-woman crew led by Commander Mike Hopkins, an Air Force colonel, named their capsule Resilience in a nod not only to the pandemic, but also racial injustice and contentious politics. NBC News, "SpaceX launches four astronauts to International Space Station," 15 Nov. 2020 Hopkins is an Air Force colonel and former space station resident who grew up on a hog and cattle farm in Missouri. Marcia Dunn, The Christian Science Monitor, "Dragon riders: NASA preps for SpaceX's second crew launch," 9 Nov. 2020 The second crew has three veteran fliers and one first-timer: — Hopkins, 51, is an Air Force colonel and former space station resident who grew up on a hog and cattle farm in Missouri. Fox News, "Astronauts head to launch site for SpaceX flight," 9 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'colonel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of colonel

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for colonel

alteration of coronel, from Middle French, modification of Old Italian colonnello column of soldiers, colonel, diminutive of colonna column, from Latin columna — see column

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Time Traveler for colonel

Time Traveler

The first known use of colonel was in 1548

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Statistics for colonel

Last Updated

23 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Colonel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/colonel. Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for colonel

colonel

noun

English Language Learners Definition of colonel

: an officer of high rank in the army, air force, or marines : a military officer who ranks above a major

colonel

noun
col·​o·​nel | \ ˈkər-nᵊl How to pronounce colonel (audio) \

Kids Definition of colonel

: a commissioned officer in the army, air force, or marine corps ranking above a major and below a general

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More from Merriam-Webster on colonel

Nglish: Translation of colonel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of colonel for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about colonel

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