cor·don | \ˈkȯr-dᵊn, -ˌdän\

Definition of cordon 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an ornamental cord or ribbon untied the cordon that fastened his cloak

b : stringcourse

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

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 The strict security cordons set up around the airports and hotels used by Trump and Kim demonstrated why the two leaders chose the city to host their sensitive summit., "All Eyes on Trump, Kim and Singapore Ahead of Summit: In Pictures," 10 June 2018 New technology can identify vehicles on any roadway and automatically charge them, so the task force was able to draw a narrower — and perhaps more politically palatable — cordon limited to the most crowded streets. Jim Dwyer And Winnie Hu, New York Times, "Driving a Car in Manhattan Could Cost $11.52 Under Congestion Plan," 18 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Police have cordoned off the park as well as a home in Amesbury, believed to be Rowley's, and other places the pair visited that day, including a church and a pharmacy. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "UK couple may have been poisoned by same nerve agent as Russian spy," 4 July 2018 Wednesday afternoon, police had cordoned off sections of the S. Claiborne Avenue neutral ground on either side of the First Street intersection. Laura Mcknight,, "Man shot to death on Central City neutral ground: NOPD," 18 Apr. 2018 All of this while some of these young men live in areas that some people are fortunate enough to only see on the news, cordoned off by yellow police tape while red and blue lights illuminate the night sky. Aaron Carter,, "Why Imhotep basketball should be appreciated, respected | Aaron Carter," 29 Mar. 2018 The practice was finally outlawed and what was left of the rock was cordoned off. Diane Daniel,, "Spoons, magnets, rocks: New book looks at the history of souvenirs," 12 June 2018 The white sedan parked close to Brace Road was briefly cordoned off with crime scene tape as police investigated. David Owens,, "Person Found Dead In Car In West Hartford Center Lot; Police Investigating," 7 Apr. 2018 They were forced to shut down after police cordoned off the area in front of the store after the shooting. Rafael Carranza, azcentral, "Nogales mourns officer killed in line of duty, leaving behind 3 kids and pregnant fiancee," 28 Apr. 2018 Police cordoned off a home in Amesbury, believed to be Rowley's, and other places the pair visited, including a church, a pharmacy and a park in Salisbury, near where the Skripals were found. Matt Dunham And Gregory Katz,, "2nd nerve agent poisoning likely not deliberate, British police say," 5 July 2018 Police cordoned off a home in Amesbury, believed to be Rowley's, and other places the pair visited, including a church, a pharmacy and a park in Salisbury, near where the Skripals were found. Author: Matt Dunham, Jill Lawless, Anchorage Daily News, "Another mystery illness rocks England after spy’s poisoning," 4 July 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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Phrases Related to cordon

cordon off

Statistics for cordon

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

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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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Comments on cordon

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one that holds something together

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