Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A commissioned rank in the U.S. Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps that is above lieutenant colonel and below brigadier general.
  • n. One who holds this rank or a similar rank in another military organization.
  • n. An honorary nonmilitary title awarded by some states of the United States.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A commissioned officer in the army, air force, or marine corps. In U.S. military, it ranks above a lieutenant colonel and below a brigadier general.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The chief officer of a regiment; an officer ranking next above a lieutenant colonel and next below a brigadier general.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To act as colonel; play the colonel.
  • n. The chief commander of a regiment of troops, whether infantry or cavalry, next in rank below that of a general officer—in the United States army, of a brigadier-general.
  • n. In angling, the name of an artificial salmon-fly

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a commissioned military officer in the United States Army or Air Force or Marines who ranks above a lieutenant colonel and below a brigadier general

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Alteration of obsolete coronel, from French, from Old Italian colonello, from diminutive of colonna, column of soldiers, from Latin columna, column.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

First attested 1548, from Middle French coronel, from Italian colonnello ("the officer of a small company of soldiers (column) that marched at the head of a regiment"), from compagna colonnella ("little column company"), from Latin columna ("pillar").

Examples

  • William Jackson was reportedly a professor at the University of Georgia; the nature of his military service and the source of the title colonel is unknown.

    Archive 2007-03-01

  • He was given the title colonel to impress Titusville residents.

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  • I'm guessing the colonel is a fan of Sergio Leone films.

    David Isenberg: Sergio Leone on PMC

  • A retired French army colonel is aiming to take a stratospheric leap into the record books by completing a 1000mph (1,600km/h) skydive from the edge of space in Canada next month.

    Man Plans Record Skydive From Edge of Space | Impact Lab

  • ‘I’ve come from Gritsky’s’ (that was what they called the colonel); ‘they’re expecting you.

    Chapter XXI. Part III

  • "I've come from Gritsky's" (that was what they called the colonel); "they're expecting you."

    Anna Karenina

  • Earlier, a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Air Force had marched, ramrod-erect, onto the loose dirt of the bullring and asked 23 saluting recruits to solemnly raise their right hands, so as to be sworn into the force.

    The Boys from Brazil

  • Drawing on my own 28 years of military experience, the colonel is correct:

    Heroes or Villains?

  • One day I sat cross-legged on the thin carpet of a two-room shack in a poor suburb, listening to a former colonel from the South Vietnamese army recount why he beat his eight-year-old son.

    Denise Hamilton discusses Sugar Skull

  • He was a brave soldier of no particular distinction in battles against the Indians, though he acquired the title of colonel, not uncommon in the South, by being elected commander of a local militia.

    An Inexplicable Gift for Fame

Comments

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  • It sounds like the American Heritage pronouncer is starting the word with a "p."

    December 11, 2009

  • According to Wikipedia: The term colonel derives from Latin columnella 'small column'. However, it was never actually a Roman rank. The system of ranks in the Roman military was quite different. As a rank the term arose in the late sixteenth century Italy where it referred to the officer in charge of a column (Italian colonna, plural colonne) or field force. The term is first attested as colonnello, but it is perhaps a truncation of something like capitano colonnello 'captain of the column, the captain designated to command the column'. In this context colonna seems to refer to a force marching in column, rather than to a battle formation — a battle or battlation of pike.

    July 26, 2009