It's a military rank that is pronounce "kernel" like a unit of corn, but is spelled "colonel," which doesn't have any other pronunciation in English. How did we get one from the other? Which came first, the spelling or the pronunciation? The answer is: they both evolved over time. See, the military term "colonel" was borrowed from the French language, which had borrowed it from Italian. But each country spelled it differently, and then each country changed it differently. Linguist Arika Okrent explains the military term "colonel" and its complicated evolution that left us with the crazy spelling at Mental Floss.