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

Noun A cordon of police kept protesters away from the building.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun After reviewing the footage with a police detective, investigators from HFSC’s crime scene unit (CSU) put up a narrower cordon of red tape. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, "CSI Houston: How a Texas lab has remade the science of forensics," 23 Apr. 2021 The group broke through a police cordon and marched to Hungary's parliament in central Budapest. Justin Spike, Star Tribune, "Hungarian far-right party protests lockdown," 15 Mar. 2021 Myanmar’s military misstated the date of a protest at which officers were shown lined up in a security cordon. New York Times, "Corrections: March 10, 2021," 9 Mar. 2021 The brigadier, who was missing the pinkie and ring finger of his right hand, was now waving at Wedge, standing in the seat of his jeep, as the other jeeps and armored vehicles on the cordon grew closer. Elliot Ackerman, Wired, "2034, Part I: Peril in the South China Sea," 26 Jan. 2021 While Iraqi authorities unfurled a giant security cordon to support the papal visit, some ordinary Iraqis felt neglected by the pageantry. Washington Post, "The symbolic power of the papal visit to Iraq," 8 Mar. 2021 Many men tried to breach the Barbizon’s security cordon. Paulina Bren, Town & Country, "Checking In! Grace Kelly, Little Edie, Liza Minnelli, and the Untold History of the Barbizon Hotel for Women," 2 Mar. 2021 Hundreds of riot police officers in body armor descended on central Moscow Tuesday evening, forming a menacing human cordon that blocked access to Red Square and other spaces near the Kremlin. New York Times, "Russian Activist Navalny Sentenced to More Than 2 Years in Prison," 2 Feb. 2021 The brigadier slowly tightened the cordon around Wedge's aircraft. Elliot Ackerman, Wired, "2034, Part I: Peril in the South China Sea," 26 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The bill would also cordon off the White House, U.S. Capitol and National Mall to remain under federal control as the seat of the U.S. government. Grace Segers, CBS News, "House approves bill that would admit Washington, D.C., as 51st state," 22 Apr. 2021 Costs for the new beer tent will include the cost of putting up snow fencing to cordon off the area, but outside of that, the beer garden could be a profitable venture for the town, Schocke said. Michelle L. Quinn,, "Highland mulls 1st ever beer garden plan for Fourth of July festival," 20 Apr. 2021 Vigilantes have shamefully used the name of George Floyd to cordon off the area from police and allow the neighborhood to sink into a state of dangerous anarchy. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: George Floyd settlement, violence at 38th and Chicago, Derek Chauvin's trial," 15 Mar. 2021 The bill would also cordon off the White House, Capitol and National Mall to remain under federal control as the seat of the U.S. government. Grace Segers, CBS News, "House committees to vote on bills on D.C. statehood and reparations," 14 Apr. 2021 Supermarkets cordon off aisles with leavened goods, wrapping shelves in black plastic. Ilan Ben Zion, The Christian Science Monitor, "Passover in Israel: Celebrating pandemic progress and freedom," 28 Mar. 2021 One idea is to cordon off urban areas and designate them off-limits to vehicles over a certain size. Larry Greenemeier, Scientific American, "Wired Wheels: Taking a Spin in the Future of Urban Transportation," 13 Jan. 2011 Deputies helped state park officials cordon off the area. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Bluff collapses in Del Mar; no one hurt," 28 Feb. 2021 Maxwell posited a tiny homunculus that could cordon off hotter, faster molecules from colder, slower ones. Washington Post, "The shadowy spirits that helped advance science," 24 Dec. 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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Last Updated

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cordon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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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