• synonyms


[kawr-dl-yair-uh z, -air-, kawr-dil-er-uh z; Spanish kawr-th ee-ye-rahs for 1]
  1. a mountain system in W South America: the Andes and its component ranges.
  2. a mountain system in W North America, including the Sierra Nevada, Coast Range, Cascade Range, and Rocky Mountains.
  3. the entire chain of mountain ranges parallel to the Pacific coast, extending from Cape Horn to Alaska.
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Related formsCor·dil·le·ran, adjectivetrans-Cor·dil·le·ran, adjective


[kawr-dl-yair-uh, -air-uh, kawr-dil-er-uh]
  1. a chain of mountains, usually the principal mountain system or mountain axis of a large landmass.
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Origin of cordillera

1695–1705; < Spanish, derivative of cordilla, diminutive of cuerda string, mountain range (< Latin chorda); see cord
Related formscor·dil·le·ran, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for cordilleras

sierra, chain, range, Alps, Andes, Himalayas, Rockies, cordillera, massif

Examples from the Web for cordilleras

Historical Examples of cordilleras

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for cordilleras


pl n
  1. 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
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  1. a series of parallel ranges of mountains, esp in the northwestern US
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Derived Formscordilleran, adjective

Word Origin for cordillera

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

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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cordilleras in Science


  1. 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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.