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

Videos posted on social media showed protesters pushing their way through one cordon before police could seal the gap. Washington Post, "Crackdown on Moscow protest suggests new approach against opposition," 29 July 2019 The police formed cordons around villages close to the station. The Economist, "Yet another tense and violent weekend puts Hong Kong on edge," 28 July 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

On Monday, a green car without a rear windshield was parked out front, the entire residence cordoned off by police tape. Jake Bleiberg,, "Texas gunman was fired from job, called FBI before shooting," 2 Sep. 2019 On Monday, a green car without a rear windshield was parked out front, the entire residence cordoned off by police tape. Jake Bleiberg, Twin Cities, "FBI: West Texas gunman ‘was on a long spiral of going down’," 2 Sep. 2019 Protesters also gathered outside Parliament Wednesday evening, with some storming the media pen which was cordoned off by police. Emily Dixon, CNN, "Over 1 million people sign a petition opposing Boris Johnson's plans to suspend Parliament," 29 Aug. 2019 Among the crowd of bystanders was Dr. James Perkins, owner of Perkins Dental Care, which was surrounded by patrol cars, its parking lot cordoned off by crime scene tape. Jessica Anderson,, "Two people in custody in relation to shooting of Baltimore police officer, who is in critical condition," 9 Aug. 2019 Forensic examiners recovered 21 bullet casings from the scene, which was cordoned off by soldiers and police. Washington Post, "5 shot dead, 6 wounded in Acapulco bar near beach," 22 July 2019 The 14 seamen were buried at a cemetery in St. Petersburg, which was cordoned off by the military. Fox News, "Russian seamen who died in mysterious navy submarine accident are buried," 7 July 2019 Early Sunday morning, the wedding hall was cordoned off by police officers as workers tried to remove the blood and debris. New York Times, "One Minute It Was an Afghan Wedding. The Next, a Funeral for 63.," 18 Aug. 2019 The apartment building was cordoned off with yellow tape on Thursday as police investigated the scene about a 10-minute drive from where the suspect was arrested. Robert Jablon, The Denver Post, "Stabbing rampage by man in 2 California cities leaves 4 dead," 8 Aug. 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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Last Updated

9 Aug 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

Comments on cordon

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one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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