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[kawr-dn] /ˈkɔr dn/
a line of police, sentinels, military posts, warships, etc., enclosing or guarding an area.
a cord or braid worn for ornament or as a fastening.
a ribbon worn usually diagonally across the breast as a badge of a knightly or honorary order.
  1. a projecting course of stones at the base of a parapet.
  2. the coping of a scarp.
  1. a stringcourse, especially one having little or no projection.
  2. a cut-stone riser on a stepped ramp or the like.
a fruit tree or shrub trained to grow along a support or a series of such supports.
verb (used with object)
to surround or blockade with or as with a cordon (usually followed by off):
The police cordoned off the street.
Origin of cordon
1400-50; Middle English < Middle French, diminutive of corde Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cordon
  • After the first case had been authenticated a military cordon was established around the whole district involved.
  • And it may still be impossible to ignore what happens outside the security cordon.
  • They carefully put the eggs in a new nest and cordon it off.
  • After snuffing the fires smoldering around the still red-hot core, they cordon off the area.
  • He has to slip outside the security cordon for a puff.
  • The crowds are so large that police have to cordon off several traffic lanes outside the church.
  • Its large tables have low dividers that cordon off personal space but won't guard personal calls.
  • The military cordon appeared to be breaking as red shirts defied orders to stay away.
  • But it could not even cordon off the school in which the hostages were held.
  • The security cordon the thieves had to run was not overwhelming.
British Dictionary definitions for cordon


a chain of police, soldiers, ships, etc, stationed around an area
a ribbon worn as insignia of honour or rank
a cord or ribbon worn as an ornament or fastening
(architect) Also called string course, belt course, table. an ornamental projecting band or continuous moulding along a wall
(horticulture) a form of fruit tree consisting of a single stem bearing fruiting spurs, produced by cutting back all lateral branches
(transitive) often foll by off. to put or form a cordon (around); close (off)
Word Origin
C16: from Old French, literally: a little cord, from corde string, cord
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cordon

mid-15c., "cord or ribbon worn as an ornament," from Middle French cordon "ribbon," diminutive of Old French corde "cord" (see cord). Sense of "a line of people or things guarding something" is 1758. Original sense preserved in cordon bleu (1727) "the highest distinction," literally "blue ribbon," for the sky-blue ribbon worn by the Knights-grand-cross of the Holy Ghost (highest order of chivalry); extended figuratively to other persons of distinction, especially, jocularly, to a first-rate cook. Cordon sanitaire (1857), from French, a guarded line between infected and uninfected districts.


1560s, "to ornament with a ribbon;" 1891 as "to guard with a cordon;" from cordon (n.). Related: Cordoned; cordoning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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