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chord 1 (kôrd)
1. Music A combination of three or more pitches sounded simultaneously.
2. Harmony, as of color.
v. chord·ed, chord·ing, chords
Music To play chords: She chorded up and down the neck of the guitar.
1. To play chords on: chorded the piano.
2. To produce by playing musical chords; harmonize: chord a melody.

[Alteration (influenced by chord, musical instrument string) of Middle English cord, from accord, agreement, from Old French acorde, from acorder, to agree; see ACCORD.]

Usage Note: The words chord and cord are often confusedand with good reason, for they are really three words, not two. There are two words spelled chord (listed as separate entries with homograph numbers in this dictionary). The first comes from the word accord and refers to a harmonious combination of three or more musical notes. The second is an alteration of cord, taking its spelling from Greek chorda, "string, gut," by way of Latin. This is the mathematical chorda line segment that joins two points on a curve. Cord itself means "a string or rope." It has many extensions, as in an electrical cord and a cord of wood. When referring to anatomical structures, it can be spelled in general usage either as cord or chord (again by influence of Greek and Latin). Strict medical usage requires cord, however. A doctor may examine a spinal cord or vocal cords, not chords.
(click for a larger image)
E major chord in opening bar of Edvard Grieg's Morgenstemning

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
chord 2 (kôrd)
1. A line segment that joins two points on a curve. See Usage Note at chord1.
2. A straight line connecting the leading and trailing edges of an airfoil.
3. Anatomy Variant of cord.
4. An emotional feeling or response: Her words struck a sympathetic chord in her audience.
5. Archaic The string of a musical instrument.

[Alteration of CORD.]
(click for a larger image)

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
cord (kôrd)
1. A slender length of flexible material usually made of twisted strands or fibers and used to bind, tie, connect, or support. See Usage Note at chord1.
2. An insulated flexible electric wire fitted with a plug or plugs.
3. A hangman's rope.
4. An influence, feeling, or force that binds or restrains; a bond or tie.
5. also chord Anatomy A long ropelike structure, such as a nerve or tendon: a spinal cord.
a. A raised rib on the surface of cloth.
b. A fabric or cloth with such ribs.
7. cords Pants made of corduroy.
8. A unit of quantity for cut fuel wood, equal to a stack measuring 4 × 4 × 8 feet or 128 cubic feet (3.62 cubic meters).
tr.v. cord·ed, cord·ing, cords
1. To fasten or bind with a cord: corded the stack of old newspapers and placed them in the recycling bin.
2. To furnish with a cord.
3. To pile (wood) in cords.

[Middle English, from Old French corde, from Latin chorda, from Greek khordē, gut, string made from gut; see gherə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots. Noun, sense 8, so called because the size of a cord pile of wood was originally measured with a cord of rope.]

corder n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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