from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A twisted cord; a tassel.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A twisted cord; a tassel.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To tow (a boat) by hand with a cordelle, walking along the bank: a common expression in the western and southwestern United States, derived from the Canadian voyageurs.
  • To use a cordelle.
  • n. A twisted cord; a tassel.
  • n. In the western United States, a tow-line for a barge or canalboat, etc. See the verb.


French, diminutive of corde cord. (Wiktionary)


  • The weather is now fine, and their labor diversified, when there is no wind, by pole, the oars, or cordelle, which is little more than a promenade along the sand bars.

    Brackenridge's Journal of a Voyage up The Missouri River, in 1811

  • The only French word left by the old _voyageurs_, so far as I now remember, is "cordelle," to tow a boat by a rope carried along the shore.

    The Hoosier Schoolmaster A Story of Backwoods Life in Indiana

  • Une or "cordelle" of great length was carried by every boat.

    De la philosophie de la nature

  • We moved as fast as the ten men on shore carrying the cordelle could walk, and the men at the pole lightened their load so greatly, they were able to walk at a good round pace.

    The Rose of Old St. Louis

  • We would tie up one more night; all hands at the cordelle and the poles, we would reach Mrs. O'Fallon's by noon, in time for dinner.

    The Rose of Old St. Louis

  • The men at the cordelle walked faster, the men at the pole pushed harder, and, there being here a chance to use them, two great sweep-oars were fastened in the rowlocks, and, four men at each oar, we went forward at such a gait that the water curled back from our prow in two foaming streams, and before many minutes we were running our nose into the bank at the foot of Mulberry Hill.

    The Rose of Old St. Louis

  • "Good-by, dear lad," that was once more near to my undoing, we were untied, and the men at the poles pushed hard and walked rapidly back to the stern, and the men at the cordelle pulled all together, with a long-drawn "Heave, ho, heave!" and we were off.

    The Rose of Old St. Louis

  • On the Lower Ohio and the Mississippi there were about twenty barges, which averaged 100 tons burden, and more than three months was occupied in ascending from Orleans to Louisville with West India produce, the crew being obliged to poll or _cordelle_ the whole distance.

    A Ramble of Six Thousand Miles through the United States of America

  • If those old cordelle men could only come back for a while from their Walhalla, how they would crowd about that wind-splitting, fire-eating, iron beast, panting from its long run, and catching its breath for another plunge into the waste places and the night!

    The River and I

  • Big men, bearded and powerful, pushing up stream with the cordelle on their shoulders!

    The River and I


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