cor·​don | \ ˈkȯr-dᵊn How to pronounce cordon (audio) , -ˌdän \

Definition of cordon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an ornamental cord or ribbon untied the cordon that fastened his cloak
2a : a line of troops or of military posts enclosing an area to prevent passage
b : a line of persons or objects around a person or place a cordon of police
3 : an espalier especially of a fruit tree trained as a single horizontal shoot or two diverging horizontal shoots in a single line


cordoned; cordoning; cordons

Definition of cordon (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to form a protective or restrictive cordon (see cordon entry 1 sense 2) around usually used with off Police cordoned off the area around the crime scene.

Examples of cordon in a Sentence

Noun A cordon of police kept protesters away from the building.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The latest clashes began after about 250 officers and staff arrived at dawn and used forklifts to move concrete barriers into a tighter cordon around the encampment, where hundreds of cars and trucks remain blocking city streets. Nick Perry, ajc, 22 Feb. 2022 Ukrainian and Russian forces have for days been locked in intensifying street fighting on the outskirts of Kyiv, as the Kremlin’s forces seek to strengthen a cordon around the capital. Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2022 Forming a human cordon, over the course of the day the police forced trucks off and pushed back protesters whose blockade of the major international trade route had cost American automakers, in particular, millions of dollars. New York Times, 13 Feb. 2022 Observers noted that the strike area was only a few hundred yards from an HTS checkpoint and that the group’s fighters set up a security cordon preventing people from entering the area. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 3 Feb. 2022 Sanctions don’t work if there are huge financial or commercial loopholes to the economic cordon that is meant to be being imposed. Paul Kennedy, WSJ, 27 Jan. 2022 The security guards then formed a cordon around an ambulance as Rayan's body was moved out on a stretcher, with his mother appearing to be weeping. Hatem Maher, ABC News, 5 Feb. 2022 Naval forces would practice shelling targets on the ground, establishing a defensive cordon around landing ships, and preventing outside forces from interfering. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 21 Oct. 2021 On Republic Day this year, commemorating the coming into force of India’s constitution on Jan. 26, 1950, thousands of farmers fought through a police cordon to enter Delhi’s historic Red Fort. Niharika Sharma, Quartz, 19 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Before the police could cordon off the area, videos show civilians attempting to rescue someone trapped in the rubble. Nora Gámez Torres, Anchorage Daily News, 7 May 2022 City of Grand Rapids salt trucks were used to cordon off certain roads to vehicles while the march took place. Arpan Lobo, Detroit Free Press, 14 Apr. 2022 Such cases underline why collectors throughout history go to extremes to cordon off their acquisitions from public scrutiny. Mary Childs, Town & Country, 26 Apr. 2022 Public health officials cordon off the person's home and disinfected everything. Jen Christensen, CNN, 31 Mar. 2022 Fights broke out among some in the crowd and security forces tried to cordon those without vouchers off to one side. Fox News, 28 Jan. 2022 Fights broke out among some in the crowd and security forces tried to cordon those without vouchers off to one side. Kathy Gannon,, 27 Jan. 2022 The United States has conducted airstrikes and provided intelligence and ground troops in Bradley fighting vehicles to help cordon off the prison. New York Times, 25 Jan. 2022 With the coronavirus pandemic still rampaging around the planet, Beijing has understandably had to cordon off the Winter Games from the world. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, 2 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cordon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of cordon


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1891, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cordon


Middle English coordone "cord worn in token of victory," borrowed from Middle French cordon "small cord, bowstring," going back to Old French, from corde "rope, string" + -on, diminutive suffix (going back to Latin -ō, -ōn-, suffix of nouns denoting persons with a prominent feature) — more at cord entry 1

Note: The sense "alignment of objects" appears to have originated in French in the 17th century; the military use ("line of military posts," etc.) is attested in French in the 18th century not long before it first appeared in English.


derivative of cordon entry 1

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The first known use of cordon was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

5 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cordon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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