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 offPolice 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 In the French city of Lyon, a bus from Milan was surrounded by a police cordon while the passengers were given a health check. NBC News, "Coronavirus used by European populist right to challenge E.U. open borders," 7 Mar. 2020 Police had maintained a tight cordon around the building, preventing anyone from coming or going or delivering aid, and water and electrical service were cut to the area. Washington Post, "Nicaragua hunger strikers evacuated from church, end protest," 23 Nov. 2019 The police formed a cordon around the attorney general’s office and stoically withstood being berated at close range and hit with handfuls of glitter. Seth Harp, Harper's Magazine, "In Harm’s Way," 27 Apr. 2020 By the time Ramadan approached, police officers were no longer willing to erect cordons around mosques to stop gatherings for prayers. Maria Abi-habib,, "As Ramadan nears, religious leaders implore Pakistanis to ignore lockdown," 23 Apr. 2020 The police formed a cordon around the attorney general’s office and stoically withstood being berated at close range and hit with handfuls of glitter. Seth Harp, Harper's magazine, "In Harm’s Way," 2 Mar. 2020 Images from the scene showed police cordons and an ambulance outside the Arena Bar and Cafe. Loveday Morris, Washington Post, "Death toll in Germany shootings climbs to 11, including alleged suspect," 20 Feb. 2020 According to PA Media, a police photographer and search teams entered a three-story block of flats near the town center on Saturday morning, while two uniformed officers were present at a cordon outside the building. Tara John, Vasco Cotovio And Lauren Kent, CNN, "Acts of heroism emerge after London terror attack," 30 Nov. 2019 The cornerstones of this health defense system lay in quarantine, sanitary cordons, lazarets (quarantine stations), disinfection and social regulation of the population at risk. Eugenia Tognotti, Time, "I’m a Historian of Epidemics and Quarantine. Now I’m Living That History on Lockdown in Italy," 11 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Transportation authorities cordoned off every other seat in buses and metro cars. Jason Horowitz,, "Italy eases virus lockdown, and gets first reckoning of toll," 4 May 2020 The staff cordoned off all but six tables with black and yellow caution tape to comply with the state social distancing requirements. Allie Morris, Dallas News, "As Texas reopens, some Dallas biz owners, customers feel hesitant, while others are excited," 1 May 2020 Later Sunday morning, crime scene tape cordoned off the home, which is owned by Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Mattioli, who has worked for the department since 2006, according to city property and employment records. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Fight at Milwaukee police officer's house leaves man seriously injured, hospitalized, police say," 19 Apr. 2020 On Monday, police cordoned off entry points to determine if drivers had a valid reason to be in Moscow, according to state media and witnesses. Mary Ilyushina, CNN, "Moscow rolls out digital tracking to enforce lockdown. Critics dub it a 'cyber Gulag'," 14 Apr. 2020 Delhi police cordoned off a major area in Nizamuddin West in south Delhi yesterday (March 30), where over 200 people have shown the Covid-19 symptoms. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "A religious congregation in Delhi could be the coronavirus hotspot India was trying to escape," 30 Mar. 2020 Homicide detectives cordoned off part of a parking lot outside a Quincy Gas to investigate the deadly shooting. Evan Macdonald, cleveland, "Man killed, another hurt in shooting in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood, police say," 25 Feb. 2020 Afghan security forces cordoned off the area, and ambulances rushed in and out to evacuate casualties. Sharif Hassan, Washington Post, "Suicide bombing shatters relative calm in Kabul, killing six," 11 Feb. 2020 Illuminations have been canceled, and areas where people normally sit and drink were cordoned off with rope. Instead of beer, many were conspicuously carrying packs of toilet paper, which had been restocked at the nearby Don Quijote supermarket. Gearoid Reidy,, "Tokyo Braces for Critical Weekend to Contain Virus Outbreak," 10 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for cordon

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for cordon

Last Updated

16 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cordon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for cordon


How to pronounce cordon (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cordon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cordon

Spanish Central: Translation of cordon

Nglish: Translation of cordon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cordon for Arabic Speakers

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