Definition of colonel in English:



  • 1An army officer of high rank, in particular (in the US Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps) an officer above a lieutenant colonel and below a brigadier general.

    • ‘As a result, lieutenant colonels, colonels, and general officers must operate in a more complex task environment than during the Cold War.’
    • ‘The Pentagon did not identify the other panel members, but said they were three colonels and a lieutenant colonel.’
    • ‘Some of these officers are now lieutenant colonels and colonels in the Army Reserve.’
    • ‘In the past year I have met midshipmen, Air Force cadets, colonels at the Army War College, officers in the Pentagon, air and naval crews at sea, reserve and retired officers, and a variety of civilian defense analysts.’
    • ‘There are a thousand colonels in the army who'd give their eye teeth for this chance.’
    • ‘Many lieutenant colonels and colonels express frustration at being labeled as poor mentors, and portrayed as contributing to the attrition of captains.’
    • ‘The Defense Department announced on Friday that the President has formally nominated three colonels for promotion to Brigadier General.’
    • ‘There are several interesting issues here, such as the much-vaunted discovery that Army colonels increasingly self-identify as Republicans.’
    • ‘When the Civil War began Grant returned to the Army and received the rank of colonel.’
    • ‘Normally, a colonel would command a brigade, but TRISSOC is an elite service, and only brigadier generals are allowed to command brigades, with colonels as second-in-commands.’
    • ‘There are many officers in the embassy who are equivalent to general officers and colonels.’
    • ‘Ted rose to the rank of colonel at the war's end serving as the 26th Infantry Regiment Commander.’
    • ‘The admiral was said to be interested in inviting upper middle grade officers, army colonels and navy captains, to observe US military exercises as a way to establish contact with the next generation of Chinese military leaders.’
    • ‘Henry, an outstanding officer and one of the youngest colonels in the Army Air Corps, pinned the eagles on his shirt collar at the age of 28.’
    • ‘As a general rule, however, military intellectuals tend to face mandatory retirement as lieutenant colonels or colonels, just as they are achieving full intellectual maturity.’
    • ‘The senior officers - generals, brigadiers, colonels - were all at a loss about what to do.’
    • ‘There are five woman colonels [air force and army] or captains [navy] qualified for promotion to general positions.’
    • ‘After 12 years of teaching ethics at the Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, I have learned a few lessons from the lieutenant colonels and colonels I've taught.’
    • ‘The problem is that many military generals and colonels and lieutenant-colonels do their own thing.’
    • ‘He retired from the Army as a colonel in 1988 and was appointed deputy commander, IGR.’
    1. 1.1informal


Mid 16th century: from obsolete French coronel (earlier form of colonel), from Italian colonnello ‘column of soldiers’, from colonna ‘column’, from Latin columna. The form coronel, source of the modern pronunciation, was usual until the mid 17th century.