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[kot-n] /ˈkɒt n/
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.
  1. to become fond of; begin to like.
  2. to approve of; agree with:
    to cotton to a suggestion.
  3. to come to a full understanding of; grasp:
    More and more firms are cottoning on to the advantages of using computers.
Origin of cotton
1250-1300; Middle English coton < Old French < Old Italian cotone < Arabic qutun, variant of qutn
Related forms
half-cotton, adjective
semicotton, noun
uncottoned, adjective


[kot-n] /ˈkɒt n/
John, 1584–1652, U.S. clergyman, colonist, and author (grandfather of Cotton Mather). Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cotton
  • 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 needed.
  • 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.
  • Take wood and cotton into a factor and out comes furniture and cloth.
  • All these items can be found in light cotton or similar fabrics.
  • Most of the time she uses flat-weave quilters' cotton, but she's been known to raid her closet for an elusive fragment.
  • There are so many great cotton, canvas, even hemp bags available now in endless sizes and styles.
  • From the beach, the shag migrated inland and found fertile ground in country club and cotton crossroads alike.
  • Its labyrinthine alleys teemed with blacksmiths, cotton-spinners, book-binders and other craftsmen.
British Dictionary definitions for 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 See also sea-island cotton
the soft white downy fibre of these plants: used to manufacture textiles
cotton plants collectively, as a cultivated crop
  1. a cloth or thread made from cotton fibres
  2. (as modifier): a cotton dress
any substance, such as kapok (silk cotton), resembling cotton but obtained from other plants
See also cotton on, cotton to
Derived Forms
cottony, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French coton, from Arabic dialect qutun, from Arabic qutn


Sir Henry. 1907–87, English golfer: three times winner of the British Open (1934, 1937, 1948)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cotton

late 13c., from Old French coton (12c.), ultimately (via Provençal, Italian, or Old Spanish) from Arabic qutn, a word perhaps of Egyptian origin. Philip Miller of the Chelsea Physic Garden sent the first cotton seeds to American colony of Georgia in 1732. Also ultimately from the Arabic word, Dutch katoen, German Kattun, Provençal coton, Italian cotone, Spanish algodon, Portuguese algodão. Cotton gin is recorded from 1794 (see gin (n.2)).


"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.). Related: Cottoned; cottoning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for cotton


Related Terms

in tall cotton, shit in high cotton

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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