First attested 1548, from Middle French coronnel, from Old Italian colonnello (“the officer of a small company of soldiers (column) that marched at the head of a regiment”), from compagnia colonnella (“little column company”), from Latin columna (“pillar”), originally a collateral form of columen, contraction culmen (“a pillar, top, crown, summit”), o-grade form from a Proto-Indo-European *kelH- (“to rise, be elevated, be prominent”). See hill, holm.
- (UK) IPA(key): /ˈkɜːnəl/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈkɝnəl/
- Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)nəl
Audio (US) (file)
- Homophone: kernel
The anomalous pronunciation is probably a holdover of the pronunciation of the earlier, obsolete form coronel.
colonel (plural colonels)
- A commissioned officer in an armed military organization, typically the highest rank before flag officer ranks (generals). It is generally found in armies, air forces or naval infantry (marines).
- 1908, W[illiam] B[lair] M[orton] Ferguson, chapter I, in Zollenstein, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC:
- The colonel and his sponsor made a queer contrast: Greystone long and stringy, with a face that seemed as if a cold wind was eternally playing on it. […] But there was not a more lascivious reprobate and gourmand in all London than this same Greystone.
- When used as a title, it is always capitalized.
- (intransitive) To act as or like a colonel.
- a colonel, highest commissioned officer below generals
- an ice cream dessert consisting of lemon sherbet and vodka
- “colonel”, in Trésor de la langue française informatisé [Digitized Treasury of the French Language], 2012.
colonel m (plural colonei)
- colonel (military officer above lieutenant-colonel and below all generals)
colonel n (uncountable)
- glyph (a letter in a type of font)