There are 2 definitions of chord in English:


Syllabification: chord
Pronunciation: /kôrd


A group of (typically three or more) notes sounded together, as a basis of harmony: the triumphal opening chords a G major chord
More example sentences
  • From the tramping funeral rhythm of the opening movement to the ominous major - minor chords of the finale, the symphony offers precious little respite from its tragic purpose.
  • Prokofiev's daunting cluster chords and rapid fire pianistic flourishes held no terrors for her.
  • The top note of the chord identifies major, while the middle note identifies minor.


[no object] (usually as noun chording) Back to top  
Play, sing, or arrange notes in chords.
More example sentences
  • Havard Wiik's piano is crucial throughout; his spare, unfussy chording recalls the economy of Monk or Herbie Nichols, while his solos are logical, melodic and direct.
  • Though I suspect Vaananen's instrument has more prosaic origins, he extracts a magical sound from it, from staccato guitar like chording to bell-like swirls.
  • Subverting the derivative subterranean drift of the rest of the album, Smith allows dissonant chording and mechanical clanks to disrupt his serene drones.


Middle English cord, from accord. The spelling change in the 18th century was due to confusion with chord2. The original sense was 'agreement, reconciliation', later 'a musical concord or harmonious sound'; the current sense dates from the mid 18th century.



Pronunciation: /ˈkôrdl/
More example sentences
  • Sitting in stark contrast, the Scherzo follows with its bold chordal character, leading to the finale which accelerates to a presto before drawing to a close.
  • All pieces are written in a melody and accompaniment style, with the right hand playing the melody and the left hand playing chordal figures or arpeggiations.
  • However, when the chordal melody is doubled in both hands, the left-hand part can be difficult to navigate cleanly.

Definition of chord in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day humoresque
Pronunciation: ˌhjuːməˈrɛsk
a short, lively piece of music

There are 2 definitions of chord in English:


Syllabification: chord
Pronunciation: /


1 Mathematics A straight line joining the ends of an arc.
More example sentences
  • He found the length of an arc of the cycloid using an exhaustion proof based on dissections to reduce the problem to summing segments of chords of a circle which are in geometric progression.
  • He wrote on the computation of sines and chords.
  • The angle at the centre of a circle is twice the angle at the circumference from the same chord.
1.1 Aeronautics The width of an airfoil from leading to trailing edge.
More example sentences
  • Since the gear had a shorter strut, it could fold aft and retract within the chord of the wing.
  • To handle the extra power at high altitude, the Columbia 400 incorporates a larger rudder in both chord and span, along with a ventral fin beneath the empennage.
  • The 0-52 was not a bad looking aircraft its rotund fuselage being offset by a narrow chord wing with a single strut.
1.2 Engineering Each of the two principal members of a truss.
More example sentences
  • The radiant barrier is most often attached near the roof, to the bottom surface of the attic truss chords or rafter framing.
  • On a practical level, the trusses also provide the framework for the second floor, which is suspended from the bottom chords of the trusses.
  • The truss chords were fabricated from rolled tee sections ranging in size from 16.5 by 84.5 in.
2 Anatomy variant spelling of cord. spinal chord
More example sentences
  • In severe cases, one or more vertebrae may be missing, exposing the spinal chord (part of the nervous system that transmits signals from the nerve endings to the brain).
  • It can affect the nervous system in any place, in the brain or the spinal chord.
  • The next step is to encourage those fibres to grow into the cell, and out of the cell into the spinal chord, by using a combination of drugs.
3 literary A string on a harp or other instrument.
More example sentences
  • Her fingers began to lightly touch the delicate chords of the instrument and with just a mere stroke; her voice began to accompany the melodic beat.
  • Her agile fingers began working like mad as they strung various wires and chords expertly through the holes.
  • The guests' voices faded, as she began to caress the chords of the instrument and raised her soft voice.


mid 16th century (in the anatomical sense): a later spelling (influenced by Latin chorda 'rope') of cord.


In modern English there are two words spelled chord: the first is the musical term meaning ‘a group of notes sounded together,’ and the second is a technical term in mathematics, aeronautics, and engineering. Cord meaning ‘string or rope made from twisted strands’ is etymologically related to the second chord, but is now regarded as a distinct word. The anatomical term generally uses the spelling cord (as in spinal cord and vocal cord), although chord is an acceptable variant.


strike (or touch) a chord

Affect or stir someone’s emotions: the issue of food safety strikes a chord with almost everyone
[with figurative reference to the emotions being the 'strings' of the mind visualized as a musical instrument]
More example sentences
  • The reaction has been mixed, but when an organisation like the Consumers' Association supports it, you know that it is touching a chord with the ordinary people of the country.
  • It touches a chord somewhere and people think it's great fun.
  • Sunitha touched a chord when she said, ‘This is a journey for evoking generosity, hope and happiness.’

strike (or touch) the right chord

Skillfully appeal to or arouse a particular emotion in others: Dickens knew how to strike the right chord in the hearts of his readers
More example sentences
  • She seems to have struck the right chord with her dynamic vocals, Cinderella story and effervescent personality.
  • Did he strike the right chord, do you think, Karen?
  • The simplicity and sincerity of the Toda song did indeed touch the right chord in the visitors.

Definition of chord in: