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.


  1. a chain of mountains, usually the principal mountain system or mountain axis of a large landmass.

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


  1. a series of parallel ranges of mountains, esp in the northwestern US

1704, from Spanish, “mountain chain,” from cordilla, in Old Spanish “string, rope,” diminutive of cuerda, from Latin chorda “cord, rope” (see cord).

  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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