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[kot-er] /ˈkɒt ər/ Machinery
a pin, wedge, key, or the like, fitted or driven into an opening to secure something or hold parts together.
verb (used with object)
to secure with a cotter.
Origin of cotter1
1300-50; Middle English coter; akin to late Middle English coterell iron bracket; of uncertain origin


[kot-er] /ˈkɒt ər/
Scot. a person occupying a plot of land and cottage, paid for in services.
cottager (def 2).
1175-1225; Middle English cotere < Anglo-French cot(i)er; see cot2, -er2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cotter
Historical Examples
  • The cotter could have come home rheumatic and found the children squalling and the wife cross.

    Robert Burns William Allan Neilson
  • You couldn't pull a cotter pin with a pair of pliers if you knew what a cotter pin was.

    Unspecialist Murray F. Yaco
  • The cotter was ejected and driven to the bogs and mountains.

  • cotter pointed through the rows of trees to a clearing beyond.

  • It is put together, generally by mortise, tenon and cotter, but it has four original screws all made by hand with the file.

  • We soon rounded the point, and cotter and the trappers and the Post were lost to view.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • "So I see, Mr. cotter," said Henry, pursuing the same humor.

    The Young Trailers Joseph A. Altsheler
  • Old cotter was sitting at the fire, smoking, when I came downstairs to supper.

    Dubliners James Joyce
  • Here and there on the slopes which faced them a cotter's hovel stood solitary in its potato patch or its plot of oats.

    The Wild Geese Stanley John Weyman
  • If the peeress as a wife has no rights, what is the state of the cotter's wife?

    Lady Byron Vindicated Harriet Beecher Stowe
British Dictionary definitions for cotter


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
short for cotter pin
(transitive) to secure (two parts) with a cotter
Word Origin
C14: shortened from cotterel, of unknown origin


(English history) Also called cottier. a villein in late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman times occupying a cottage and land in return for labour
Also called cottar. a peasant occupying a cottage and land in the Scottish Highlands under the same tenure as an Irish cottier
See also cottier (sense 2), cottager (sense 1)
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin cotārius, from Middle English cotecot²
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 cotter

1640s, perhaps a shortened form of cotterel, a dialectal word for "cotter pin or bolt, bracket to hang a pot over a fire" (1560s), itself of uncertain origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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