Definition of cordon in US English:



  • 1A line or circle of police, soldiers, or guards preventing access to or from an area or building.

    ‘troops threw a cordon around the headquarters’
    • ‘The protesters were met at the factory gates by a cordon of police officers, and around 500 people were arrested.’
    • ‘The cordon of police in front of us tried to prevent more protesters from joining those who blocked the entrances to the Convention Center.’
    • ‘Smoke and flames were visible over a wide area and police mounted a cordon in Yarwood Street, near the main entrance to the shop.’
    • ‘And six police officers helped cordon off the area to keep the public safe.’
    • ‘Soldiers forming a cordon around the police station became involved, and a wall was demolished by a British tank as they struggled to ‘collect’ the men, the MoD said.’
    • ‘Miami riot police threw up a cordon around the home and fanned out across the city.’
    • ‘Search specialists and sniffer dogs were also deployed as police extended the cordon to more than 300 metres from the deserted bus.’
    • ‘Yards away, police officers manned a cordon around the house, and tarpaulins hung over the charred first floor window where firefighters are thought to have made the discovery of the bodies.’
    • ‘Following the discovery, police threw a cordon round the area and set up a 24-hour guard to protect the site.’
    • ‘But police cordons delayed his evacuation to a hospital, and he died a few hours later.’
    • ‘The alert was only lifted after Mr Neale turned up at the cordon line and asked police why they were so interested in his car.’
    • ‘Tourists took pictures as the banners and flags filed past police cordons; curious onlookers gazed from hotel balconies.’
    • ‘Some 20 minutes later a cordon of 40 more police officers surrounded the marchers to protect them in preparation for the march.’
    • ‘The area was not evacuated because police believed the site cordon was ample and there was no ‘immediate danger’.’
    • ‘Police set up cordons around the area and closed the lower end of the High Street while firefighters began carrying out their investigations.’
    • ‘Two ambulances, a fast response car and three fire engines attended the scene and six police officers helped cordon off the area.’
    • ‘This morning the only activity was a lone postman making his way along the street, and a couple of residents who came out to chat to police officers manning the cordon.’
    • ‘Dozens of people living in Cromwell Road in the Maindee area of the town were told to leave their homes as a police cordon was thrown around the area early yesterday.’
    • ‘They covered their mouths with black tape and tried to approach the courtroom before a cordon of police officers turned them away.’
    • ‘On the other side of the barricades and police and army cordons were the protesters, who had travelled overnight from all over Ireland.’
    barrier, line, column, row, file, ranks, chain, ring, circle
    View synonyms
  • 2Architecture

    another term for stringcourse
  • 3An ornamental cord or braid.


[with object]cordon off
  • Prevent access to or from an area or building by surrounding it with police or other guards.

    ‘the city center was cordoned off after fires were discovered in two stores’
    • ‘The scene of the tragedy was cordoned off by police tape and was guarded by officers as investigations into the cause of the blaze continued.’
    • ‘The bombed areas were cordoned off from civilians who, by and large, remained unimpressed.’
    • ‘Broken glass was everywhere, and parts of the lab had been cordoned off by police tape.’
    • ‘It was a stark contrast to 12 months ago when the area was cordoned off by police.’
    • ‘The crews were at the scene for four hours and the area was cordoned off as police and fire investigation officers began an examination the scene.’
    • ‘People living nearby were woken with the news at around 3am and the area was cordoned off by police tape.’
    • ‘So they cordoned the area off while the bomb squad went to work and blew it up safely.’
    • ‘Patrol cars, including armed response units, were visible at nearby road junctions and at least one public access area overlooking the airport had been cordoned off by West Yorkshire Police.’
    • ‘The area around the house has been cordoned off and police set up a tent in the garden.’
    • ‘Ambulance crews and the police were called and cordoned the area off.’
    • ‘I took my dog for a walk that particular night and the area had been cordoned off by the police.’
    • ‘A large area surrounding the house has been cordoned off by police tape.’
    • ‘The area around the terraced house was cordoned off with police tape earlier today.’
    • ‘When she told him, he broke the news to her that the whole area had been cordoned off by the bomb squad.’
    • ‘After the escape the general area had been cordoned off and the regular guards were forbidden to explore the place lest they discover the scene of the crime.’
    • ‘Traffic coming from the Quay direction was blocked off as far as Catherine Street while the ground immediately surrounding the building was cordoned off by tape, with mattresses at the ready, until she was removed to safety.’
    • ‘Yesterday the scene was cordoned off with police tape as fire investigators picked through the wreckage of the fire which left windows shattered and blackened.’
    • ‘Surely there not being a Christmas tree was not reason enough for the police to cordon the area off.’
    • ‘On Wednesday morning an area near the wine bar was cordoned off with tape while police forensic experts investigated.’
    • ‘From midnight tonight, the three buildings and the surrounding areas will be cordoned off as part of a security exclusion zone round the conference.’
    close off, seal off, tape off, fence off, rope off, screen off, curtain off, shut off, partition off, separate off, isolate, segregate, quarantine
    View synonyms


Late Middle English (denoting an ornamental braid): from Italian cordone, augmentative of corda, and French cordon, diminutive of corde, both from Latin chorda ‘string, rope’ (see cord). cordon (sense 3 of the noun), the earliest of the current noun senses, dates from the early 18th century.