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
a cloth or thread made from cotton fibres
(as modifier) a cotton dress
any substance, such as kapok (silk cotton), resembling cotton but obtained from other plants
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.).