a feeling or emotion: His story struck a chord of pity in the listeners.
Geometry. the line segment between two points on a given curve.
Engineering, Building Trades. a principal member of a truss extending from end to end, usually one of a pair of such members, more or less parallel and connected by a web composed of various compression and tension members.
Aeronautics. a straight line joining the trailing and leading edges of an airfoil section.
Anatomy. cord(def 6).

Origin of chord

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin chorda < Greek chordḗ gut, string; replacing cord in senses given
Related formschord·ed, adjective




a combination of usually three or more musical tones sounded simultaneously.

verb (used with object)

to establish or play a chord or chords for (a particular harmony or song); harmonize or voice: How would you chord that in B flat?

Origin of chord

1350–1400; earlier cord, Middle English, short for accord; ch- from chord1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for chord

Contemporary Examples of chord

Historical Examples of chord

  • When I hear a note of music, can I not at once strike its chord?


    Lydia Maria Child

  • We two were wholly out of chord, be the fault whose it might.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • The doctor's name struck a chord and Crawford dug deep until it focused.

  • There was no chord in his nature that responded to such feelings; but he said nothing in reply.

  • And Gervasio's words touched in my mind some chord of memory.

    The Strolling Saint

    Raphael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for chord




  1. a straight line connecting two points on a curve or curved surface
  2. the line segment lying between two points of intersection of a straight line and a curve or curved surface
engineering one of the principal members of a truss, esp one that lies along the top or the bottom
anatomy a variant spelling of cord
an emotional response, esp one of sympathythe story struck the right chord
an imaginary straight line joining the leading edge and the trailing edge of an aerofoil
archaic the string of a musical instrument
Derived Formschorded, adjective

Word Origin for chord

C16: from Latin chorda, from Greek khordē gut, string; see cord




the simultaneous sounding of a group of musical notes, usually three or more in numberSee concord (def. 4), discord (def. 3)


(tr) to provide (a melodic line) with chords
Derived Formschordal, adjective

Word Origin for chord

C15: short for accord; spelling influenced by chord 1
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

Word Origin and History for chord

"related notes in music," 1590s, ultimately a shortening of accord (or borrowed from a similar development in French) and influenced by Latin chorda "catgut, a string" of a musical instrument (see cord (n.)). Spelling with an -h- first recorded c.1600, from confusion with chord (n.2). Originally two notes; of three or more from 18c.


"structure in animals resembling a string," 1540s, alteration of cord (n.), by influence of Greek khorde "gut-string, string of a lyre, tripe," from PIE *ghere- "gut, entrail" (see yarn). The geometry sense is from 1550s; meaning "feeling, emotion" first attested 1784.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

chord in Medicine




Variant ofcord
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

chord in Science



A line segment that joins two points on a curve.
A straight line connecting the leading and trailing edges of an airfoil.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

chord in Culture


In music, the sound of three or more notes played at the same time. The history of Western music is marked by an increase in complexity of the chords composers use.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with chord


see strike a chord.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.