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[kawr-dl-yair-uh, -air-uh, kawr-dil-er-uh] /ˌkɔr dlˈyɛər ə, -ˈɛər ə, kɔrˈdɪl ər ə/
a chain of mountains, usually the principal mountain system or mountain axis of a large landmass.
Origin of cordillera
1695-1705; < Spanish, derivative of cordilla, diminutive of cuerda string, mountain range (< Latin chorda); see cord
Related forms
cordilleran, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cordillera
Historical Examples
  • We must therefore conclude that it percolates under ground from the cordillera, though distant many leagues.

  • cordillera genera of plants have also, somehow, reached the Silla of Caracas.

  • Beyond the pampas again tower the unnumbered peaks of the cordillera, and among them all things, minerally speaking, are possible.

    Through the Heart of Patagonia H. Hesketh Prichard
  • We were not yet certain by which pass the caravan might cross the great cordillera.

    The Wild Huntress Mayne Reid
  • After the wool-buyers, the cattle-merchants of Buenos Aires next found their way to the cordillera.

    The Argentine Republic Pierre Denis
  • The western one nearer the coast is called the cordillera, or the Coast Range.

    The Prehistoric World E. A. Allen
  • The cordillera Vilcapampa is a climatic as well as a topographic barrier.

  • They exist also in Chili, on the plains at the foot of the cordillera of the Andes.

    At Home with the Patagonians George Chaworth Musters
  • They also inhabit a small range that extends in a northeasterly direction from the cordillera to Point Kawit on the east coast.

    The Manbos of Mindano John M. Garvan
  • He also proposed a trip into the cordillera in search of wild cattle.

    At Home with the Patagonians George Chaworth Musters
British Dictionary definitions for cordillera


a series of parallel ranges of mountains, esp in the northwestern US
Derived Forms
cordilleran, adjective
Word Origin
C18: from Spanish, from cordilla, literally: a little cord, from cuerda mountain range, 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 cordillera

1704, from Spanish, "mountain chain," from cordilla, in Old Spanish "string, rope," diminutive of cuerda, from Latin chorda "cord, rope" (see cord).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cordillera in Science
A long and wide chain of mountains, especially the main mountain range of a large landmass. Cordilleras can include the valleys, basins, rivers, lakes, plains, and plateaus between parallel chains of a single mountain system, or they can consist solely of a string of connected mountain peaks.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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