—colonelcy, n./kerr"nl/, n.1. an officer in the U.S. Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps ranking between lieutenant colonel and brigadier general: corresponding to a captain in the U.S. Navy.2. a commissioned officer of similar rank in the armed forces of some other nations.3. an honorary title bestowed by some Southern states, as to those who have brought honor to the state, prominent businesspersons, visiting celebrities, or the like: When the vice president visited the state he was made a Kentucky colonel.4. Older Use. (in the South) a title of respect prefixed to the name of distinguished elderly men.[1540-50; < MF < It colon(n)ello = colonn(a) COLUMN + -ello < L -ellus dim. suffix; so named because such an officer orig. headed the first column or company of a regiment]Pronunciation. COLONEL /kerr"nl/, with its medial l pronounced as /r/, illustrates one source for the apparent vagaries of English spelling: divergence between a word's orthographic development and its established pronunciation. In this case, English borrowed from French two variant forms of the same word, one pronounced with medial and final /l/, and a second reflecting dissimilation of the first /l/ to /r/. After a period of competition, the dissimilated form triumphed in pronunciation, while the spelling colonel became the orthographic standard.
* * *▪ military rankthe highest field-grade officer, ranking just below the general officer grades in most armies or below brigadier in the British services. A colonel was traditionally the commanding officer of a regiment or brigade. In air forces that use the same titles of rank as the army, such as the U.S. Air Force, a colonel's command is usually a group; the comparable grade in the Royal Air Force is group captain. When not exercising command of a regiment, group, or equivalent formation, a colonel is generally placed in a senior staff or administrative post.
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