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

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 Image On Monday, the authorities evacuated a bus in the city center and, for a few hours, established a wide security cordon around it, raising fears of another nerve agent incident. New York Times, "Britain Suggests Russia Is Behind Latest Nerve Agent Case," 9 July 2018 Basu said cordons would remain in place in some locations to protect the public despite the apparent breakthrough in the case. Fox News, "UK police confirm source of Novichok poisoning," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

About half an hour later, after security made all bystanders in the lobby put away their smartphones, Kim emerged from the elevator and sauntered by in a path cordoned off by velvet ropes. Victoria Kim,, "I grew up in striking distance of North Korea’s artillery. Covering Kim's summit with Trump was sobering and personal.," 13 June 2018 Police tape cordoned off the scene, which was a short distance away from Ronan Park. Danny Mcdonald,, "Former candidate for Boston City Council among three men shot in Dorchester," 27 June 2018 Yellow concrete barriers cordon off a wider stretch of the path, frustrating strollers, runners, cyclists and bird-watchers who must stop and turn back rather than complete a full loop of the walkway. Blair Kamin,, "Northerly Island walkway still mangled and off-limits: Here's the story behind this engineering flop," 27 Apr. 2018 Outside of Athens the ruins generally aren’t cordoned off. Bliss Broyard, Condé Nast Traveler, "I Took My Kids Out Of School for Three Months to Travel," 13 July 2018 Mike Howard, a spokesman for Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia, said the building was evacuated immediately and the area was cordoned off. Martin Weil And Matt Zapotosky,, "‘Suspicious packages’ sent to D.C.-area military installations," 27 Mar. 2018 With Tree of Life still cordoned off as a crime scene, more than 1,000 people poured into Rodef Shalom, one of the city’s oldest and largest synagogues, to mourn the Rosenthal brothers, ages 59 and 54. Allen G. Breed, The Seattle Times, "Mourning and protests as Pittsburgh begins victims’ burials," 31 Oct. 2018 The site of the shootings — the 1200 building — still stands, cordoned off by a chain-link fence. Tim Reynolds, The Seattle Times, "At Stoneman Douglas, football season comes with heavy hearts," 30 July 2018 In the aftermath of the explosion, numerous police vehicles and ambulances surrounded the restaurant, which was cordoned off with yellow tape. Allyson Chiu, Washington Post, "IED explosion at Ontario Indian restaurant injures at least 15. Two men sought.," 25 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


derivative of cordon entry 1

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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

What made you want to look up cordon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a shady place in a garden or forest

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