a. A commissioned rank in the US Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps that is above lieutenant colonel and below brigadier general.
b. One who holds this rank or a similar rank in another military organization.
2. An honorary nonmilitary title awarded by some states of the United States.
[Alteration of obsolete coronel, from French, from Old Italian colonello, from diminutive of colonna, column of soldiers, from Latin columna, column; see kel-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
colonel·cy, colonel·ship′ n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.