a soft, white, downy substance consisting of the hairs or fibers attached to the seeds of plants belonging to the genus Gossypium, of the mallow family, used in making fabrics, thread, wadding, etc.
the plant itself, having spreading branches and broad, lobed leaves.
such plants collectively as a cultivated crop.
cloth, thread, a garment, etc., of cotton.
any soft, downy substance resembling cotton, but growing on other plants.
verb (used without object)
Informal. to get on well together; agree.
Obsolete. to prosper or succeed.
Verb phrases
cotton (on) to, Informal.
to become fond of; begin to like.
to approve of; agree with: to cotton to a suggestion.
to come to a full understanding of; grasp: More and more firms are cottoning on to the advantages of using computers.

1250–1300; Middle English coton < Old French < Old Italian cotone < Arabic qutun, variant of qutn

half-cotton, adjective
semicotton, noun
uncottoned, adjective Unabridged


John, 1584–1652, U.S. clergyman, colonist, and author (grandfather of Cotton Mather). Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cotton (ˈkɒtən)
1.  See also sea-island cotton any of various herbaceous plants and shrubs of the malvaceous genus Gossypium, such as sea-island cotton, cultivated in warm climates for the fibre surrounding the seeds and the oil within the seeds
2.  the soft white downy fibre of these plants: used to manufacture textiles
3.  cotton plants collectively, as a cultivated crop
4.  a.  a cloth or thread made from cotton fibres
 b.  (as modifier): a cotton dress
5.  any substance, such as kapok (silk cotton), resembling cotton but obtained from other plants
[C14: from Old French coton, from Arabic dialect qutun, from Arabic qutn]

Cotton (ˈkɒtən)
Henry. 1907--87, British golfer: three times winner of the British Open

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 13c., from O.Fr. coton, ult. (via Prov., It., or O.Sp.) from Arabic qutn, perhaps of Egyptian origin. Philip Miller of the Chelsea Physic Garden sent the first cotton seeds to American colony of Georgia in 1732. Cotton-picking was first recorded in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but the noun meaning "contemptible
person" dates to around 1919, probably with racist overtones that have faded over the years. Cotton gin is recorded from 1794.

"to get on with" someone (usually with to), 1560s, perhaps from Welsh cytuno "consent, agree." But perhaps also a metaphor from cloth finishing and thus from cotton (n.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Then wet a piece of thin cotton string and drag it through the bowl.
Use plastic cleaner or dish soap with cotton towels to clean frame top as
Following the package instructions, apply the iron-on adhesive to the back side
  of the yellow cotton.
But neighbors still don't cotton to the idea of dead bodies lying around, some
  buried and some left in the open.
Images for Cotton
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