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

When a group of protesters broke through the police cordon into the parliament, the demonstration turned violent. Alexander Sikorski, National Review, "Georgians Continue to Defy Putin, and the West Must Stand with Them," 28 June 2019 Espalier is the art of growing fruit trees — usually apples or pears — by training the branches to grow horizontally along cordons, much like those used in growing grapes. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "How to grow fruit trees — even in a tiny Bay Area garden," 19 June 2019 Protesters broke through the police cordon at the main entrance of the government building, but did not try to open its doors. Llazar Semini, The Seattle Times, "Albanian opposition clashes with police in anti-govt protest," 13 Apr. 2019 Non-Muslims, many of them members of Christian congregations, are in attendance, laying flowers, joining in prayer, forming cordons and honor guards to symbolize their desire to protect their fellow worshipers from harm. Michael Bradley, National Geographic, "‘This isn’t us? Oh but it is.’ New Zealand grapples with its history," 19 Mar. 2019 Demonstrators tried to break through police cordons near the presidential administration building and three officers were injured in clashes, Kiev police said on Facebook. Kateryna Choursina,, "Protesters in Ukraine Seek Punishment for Graft in Military," 9 Mar. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

On the whistle, we were allowed to walk (not run) into shallow waters cordoned off by bright-red buoys. Sophia Moskalenko, Vox, "I was a child of Chernobyl," 2 July 2019 Police cordoned off Sixth Avenue between A and B streets and B Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues during the investigation. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Man stabbed during argument in downtown San Diego," 30 June 2019 News24 video footage showed the body of the attacker lying in an open area cordoned off by police tape. Washington Post, "South African police kill man after fatal mosque attack," 14 June 2018 Authorities, fearing the box possibly contained an explosive, cordoned off streets surrounding the post office for more than four hours. Robert Rhoden,, "Suspicious Slidell package -- no feces, just water," 25 Jan. 2018 Winship Street was cordoned off and detectives canvassed the block. Christine Dempsey,, "Avon man died in double shooting, Hartford police say," 25 June 2019 On Thursday morning, Tim awoke in a motel — her home has been cordoned off since the shooting — and made plans to get breakfast at an IHOP. Gwendolyn Wu,, "Mother of man killed by San Leandro police disputes officers’ version of events," 13 June 2019 At most he’ll be cordoned off to a Mar-a-lago light club Fed type of facility until he’s pardoned by President Pence. Thembi Ford, Essence, "Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That: The Liberal Case Against Impeachment," 12 June 2019 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

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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Statistics for cordon

Last Updated

12 Jul 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

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