Cordon sanitaire

Cordon sanitaire
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French Expression

Meaning quarantine line
Literally sanitary cordon
Register normal
Pronunciation French sound files [kuhr do(n) sah nee tehr]
IPA   [kɔʁ dɔ̃ sa ni tɛʁ]

Usage notes: Un cordon sanitaire refers to the line around a quarantine zone that prevents people from entering or leaving the area. It may be a literal barrier (fence, soldiers) or figurative (travel restrictions).

Par exemple…

On vient d’y établir un cordon sanitaire.   They’ve just established a quarantine line there.
Pensez-vous que le cordon sanitaire suffise ?   Do you think the quarantine line will suffice?

Related expressions

  • imposer la / une quarantaine – to create a quarantine zone
  • mettre en quarantaine – to quarantine
  • placer en quarantaine – to quarantine
  • lever la quarantaine – to lift the quarantine

 By extension, cordon sanitaire has two additional meanings:

1. An alliance of countries created to form a buffer to prevent an unwanted ideology (e.g., communism) from spreading to other countries. The first and most famous use of this meaning was in 1919.

2. The exclusion of a political party from a coalition government in a parliamentary country. The term was first used this way in Belgium in the late 1980s.

Source: For more in-depth analysis and instances of the different types of cordons sanitaires throughout history, see Wikipedia: Cordon sanitaire.

 En anglais

All three meanings of cordon sanitaire are used in English as well.

 French vocabulary

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Un cordon sanitaire

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