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 colonelcy (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

Prince William, who’s a colonel of the Irish Guards, partook in this year's festivities wearing his official uniform. Tess Kornfeld, Glamour, "Kate Middleton Looks Beyond Regal in Her Alexander McQueen St. Patrick's Day Outfit," 17 Mar. 2019 Prince William became the first royal colonel of the Irish Guards in 2011, according to The Telegraph. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Celebrates St. Patrick's Day 2019 in a Custom Alexander McQueen Coat," 17 Mar. 2019 Brazil’s Bolsonaro, an even more divisive figure than Donald Trump, dedicated his vote in favor of impeaching former president Dilma Rousseff to the colonel who was responsible for her torture under the country’s military dictatorship. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "Brazil’s Bolsonaro Is 2018’s Biggest Winner," 7 Jan. 2019 At the time of Skripal’s trial, the Russian media quoted the FSB domestic security agency as saying that the damage from his activities could be compared to harm inflicted by Oleg Penkovsky, a GRU colonel who spied for the United States and Britain. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal's poisoning: What to know," 8 Aug. 2018 At the time of Skripal’s trial, the Russian media quoted the FSB domestic security agency as saying that the damage from his activities could be compared to harm inflicted by Oleg Penkovsky, a GRU colonel who spied for the United States and Britain. Washington Post, "UK counter-terror offer help after ex-Russian spy collapses," 6 Mar. 2018 Take a look: Want to live like the daughter of a colonel during the Revolutionary War? Lauren Smith, House Beautiful, "A Darling Farmhouse Steeped in Revolutionary War History," 14 Sep. 2015 The two sat together in a carriage with Prince Harry on the way to the palace while Prince William rode in the parade as an honorary colonel of the Household Division. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "How Meghan Markle's First Trooping the Colour Outfit Compares to Kate's," 9 June 2018 Prosecutors on Tuesday accused a South Florida prison colonel with wrongfully pepper spraying an inmate, then forcing an underling to create a false report about the incident. David Ovalle, miamiherald, "Florida prison colonel charged in pepper-spray attack on inmate caught on video | Miami Herald," 15 May 2018

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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Statistics for colonel

Last Updated

19 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for colonel

The first known use of colonel was in 1548

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with colonel

Spanish Central: Translation of colonel

Nglish: Translation of colonel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of colonel for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about colonel

Comments on colonel

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