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

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

The block of two- and three-flats was quiet after the shooting, with a small crime scene cordoned off in yellow tape on the south side of the sidewalk. Hannah Leone,, "10 people shot, 1 fatally, in 6 hours in Chicago," 14 July 2018 The area was evacuated and the street was cordoned off. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "At least 2 people released after French hostage situation; man arrested," 12 June 2018 At the scene of the home late Friday, a large brick house with a horseshoe driveway that was cordoned off, investigators could be seen walking through the house and gathering in the home's driveway, where three vehicles were parked. Chelsea Brasted,, "'Minor property dispute' leads to three dead in Marrero: JPSO," 19 May 2018 Police cordoned off a section of Harrison Avenue near Buchanan and St. Bernard Avenue. Laura Mcknight,, "Man shot at Harrison and St. Bernard avenues: NOPD," 4 June 2018 Later that night, dozens of antiterror police cordoned off the house and began digging holes in his yard. Alan Cullison, WSJ, "A Trio of Wealthy Russians Made an Enemy of Putin. Now They’re All Dead.," 10 Oct. 2018 The cathedral was closed Wednesday, and a grassy area by the jetty was cordoned off as police inspected the ground for clues. Fox News, "Thieves steal Swedish royal jewels, escape by speedboat," 1 Aug. 2018 According to Joyakgol, security forces cordoned off the village with barbed war until its residents were eventually evicted in 2007. Time, "Inside Camp Humphreys, South Korea: America's Largest Overseas Military Base," 13 July 2018 Federal Circuit judges spend a lot of time around patent lawyers, and patent lawyers are hostile to the very idea of cordoning off some types of discoveries from the patent system. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Why a 40-year-old SCOTUS ruling against software patents still matters today," 21 June 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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Statistics for cordon

Last Updated

29 Nov 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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More from Merriam-Webster on 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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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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