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[kawr-dl-yair-uh z, -air-, kawr-dil-er-uh z; Spanish kawr-th ee-ye-rahs for 1] /ˌkɔr dlˈyɛər əz, -ˈɛər-, kɔrˈdɪl ər əz; Spanish ˌkɔr ðiˈyɛ rɑs for 1/
a mountain system in W South America: the Andes and its component ranges.
a mountain system in W North America, including the Sierra Nevada, Coast Range, Cascade Range, and Rocky Mountains.
the entire chain of mountain ranges parallel to the Pacific coast, extending from Cape Horn to Alaska.
Related forms
Cordilleran, adjective
trans-Cordilleran, adjective


[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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Cordilleras
Historical Examples
  • And over there in Brazil, and up there towards the Cordilleras, it is unknown.

    Green Mansions W. H. Hudson
  • There are only two practicable passes that I know of in this part of the Cordilleras.

  • They proceeded from that part of the Cordilleras which lay in darkness.

  • Here the voyagers were abreast of some of the grandest heights of the Cordilleras.

  • I have just returned from Mendoza, having crossed the Cordilleras by two passes.

  • The rugged wilderness of the Cordilleras hems us in on every side.

    Under the Southern Cross

    Elizabeth Robins
  • Beyond the hills rose the three red peaks and the Cordilleras.

    Across Patagonia

    Lady Florence Dixie
  • When we cross the Cordilleras the Peruvian type has changed.

    Man and His Migrations

    R. G. (Robert Gordon) Latham
  • This branch of the Cordilleras forms the southern limits of Sonora.

    The Trappers of Arkansas Gustave Aimard
  • The Pincheyras knew the most secret hiding places in the Cordilleras.

    The Insurgent Chief

    Gustave Aimard
British Dictionary definitions for Cordilleras


/ˌkɔːdɪlˈjɛərəz; Spanish korðiˈʎeras/
plural noun
the Cordilleras, the complex of mountain ranges on the W side of the Americas, extending from Alaska to Cape Horn and including the Andes and the Rocky Mountains


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 Cordilleras



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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Cordilleras 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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