cotter1

[kot-er] /ˈkɒt ər/
noun
1.
a pin, wedge, key, or the like, fitted or driven into an opening to secure something or hold parts together.
verb (used with object)
3.
to secure with a cotter.
Origin
1300–50; Middle English coter; akin to late Middle English coterell iron bracket; of uncertain origin

cotter2

[kot-er] /ˈkɒt ər/
noun
1.
Scot. a person occupying a plot of land and cottage, paid for in services.
2.
cottager (def 2).
Origin
1175–1225; Middle English cotere < Anglo-French cot(i)er; see cot2, -er2
British Dictionary definitions for cotter
cotter1 (ˈkɒtə)
 
n
1.  any part, such as a pin, wedge, key, etc, that is used to secure two other parts so that relative motion between them is prevented
2.  short for cotter pin
 
vb
3.  (tr) to secure (two parts) with a cotter
 
[C14: shortened from cotterel, of unknown origin]

cotter2 (ˈkɒtə)
 
n
1.  English history Also called: cottier a villein in late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman times occupying a cottage and land in return for labour
2.  Also called: cottar a peasant occupying a cottage and land in the Scottish Highlands under the same tenure as an Irish cottier
 
[C14: from Medieval Latin cotārius, from Middle English cotecot²]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin and History for cotter
cotter
1640s, perhaps a shortened form of cotterel, a dial. word for "cotter pin or bolt, bracket to hang a pot over a fire" (1570), itself of uncertain origin.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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8
9
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