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


A cordon of police kept protesters away from the building.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Within a week of the prize announcement, the authorities created a permanent security cordon around Ms. Liu. Jared Genser, WSJ, "Where Is Liu Xiaobo’s Widow?," 2 Aug. 2017 Earlier in the day, the two men put forward an elaborate show of friendship on the South Lawn, reviewing cordons of troops in formation and recalling the long history between the US and France. Laura Smith-spark, CNN, "Macron opens door to new Iran deal in talks with Trump," 25 Apr. 2018 Previously haughty locals have befriended the cheerful police manning the cordons around Queen Elizabeth Gardens and Zizzi's restaurant. Francesca Ebel, Fox News, "A journalist sees her worlds collide in nerve agent attack," 9 Aug. 2018 There were road cordons and a heavy police presence outside the St. Regis, although officers took a gentle approach when urging those who had gathered outside the hotel with smartphones and video cameras to move back from the wire barricades. Motoko Rich, New York Times, "Trump and Kim Arrive in Singapore for Historic Summit Meeting," 10 June 2018 This reaction, known as transference, can help the patient work through problems, as long as therapy focuses on what those feelings mean for the patient, and the therapist cordons off his own needs and private life. Felice J. Freyer,, "She accused her psychologist of sexual misconduct. The board found her credible, but he still has a license to practice.," 4 June 2018 Some protesters pulled down a fence at the Interior Ministry and tried to break through a police cordon. Washington Post, "Albania opposition rallies, demands prime minister resign," 26 May 2018 The second explosion, which was described as considerably larger, hit as emergency workers gathered near the police cordon blocking the area. Mujib Mashal,, "At least 38 die in Afghan attacks, including 10 journalists," 30 Apr. 2018 That site becomes a work of architecture, defined by the cordon. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, "Forensics Helps Widen Architecture’s Mission," 6 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Use painter's tape to cordon off one small part of a wall for a handy writing surface or paint swatches onto your gardening pots or storage jars to label what's inside. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need to Know About Chalkboard Paint," 29 Apr. 2019 Land and sea approaches to the 17.5-acre compound are routinely cordoned off by Secret Service and local police. Si Liberman, USA TODAY, "Mar-a-Lago: An insider's view of Trump's Florida estate," 7 Mar. 2018 Overflow space will be cordoned off along 16th Street NW and in Farragut Square, where organizers will set up large screens. Marissa J. Lang, Washington Post, "Tens of thousands expected to protest Trump’s immigration policy during Washington rally," 30 June 2018 As Cosby approached the building, a topless woman jumped the barricade cordoning off protesters, stopping the 80-year-old in his tracks. NBC News, "Bill Cosby's sex-assault retrial begins as first big court case of the #MeToo era," 9 Apr. 2018 Helicopter footage showed a sheet in the middle of the yard next to the house, with police tape cordoning off the area. Mike Catalini, The Seattle Times, "2 kids, 2 adults dead in arson fire at mansion," 21 Nov. 2018 Death is so much part of the landscape that once police cordoned off the area around Mr. Sabino’s body, some patrons at a nearby rotisserie chicken restaurant stayed to finish their meals. David Luhnow, WSJ, "Latin America Is the Murder Capital of the World," 20 Sep. 2018 Some holy men took turns giving sermons and offering comfort to relatives of the missing, who sat in plastic chairs in an area cordoned off to the public. George Styllis,, "Water pumps, drills and Buddhist prayers power desperate search for boys trapped in Thailand cave," 1 July 2018 Television images showed debris scattered around the entrance of one church and police cordoning off areas as crowds gathered. NBC News, "At least 2 dead after suicide bomb attacks on three churches in Indonesia," 13 May 2018

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.

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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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Last Updated

3 May 2019

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Time Traveler for cordon

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

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English Language Learners Definition of cordon

: a line of people or objects that are placed around or in front of a person or place to keep people away

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More from Merriam-Webster on cordon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cordon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cordon

Spanish Central: Translation of cordon

Nglish: Translation of cordon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cordon for Arabic Speakers

Comments on cordon

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a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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