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cotton wool

cotton in its raw state, as on the boll or gathered but unprocessed.
British, absorbent cotton.
Origin of cotton wool
1590-1600 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cotton wool
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A few drops of the oil of Cajput on cotton wool is said to be a great relief to the tooth-ache.

  • Her folks was well-off and she was brought up in cotton wool, as you might say.

    Fair Harbor Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • Plug the mouth of each tube with cotton wool, and place entire set in the incubator at 37°C. for one hour.

  • We thought we could get over this difficulty by wrapping the grapnel in cotton wool.

    A Jolly Fellowship Frank R. Stockton
  • Gautreau's head was swathed with cotton wool and he left the ward.

    The New Book Of Martyrs Georges Duhamel
  • Rectus carried the rope, and I had the grapnel, wrapped in its cotton wool.

    A Jolly Fellowship Frank R. Stockton
  • A very unique implement, I imagine, was a little stick of polished wood, with a tuft of cotton wool tied by a ribbon at one end.

  • We will pack her in cotton wool if necessary; but it will not be necessary.

    Hildegarde's Holiday Laura E. Richards
  • Many prefer a tuft of cotton wool rolled into a handy size, this is likewise drawn over the hair, and the rest done as before.

British Dictionary definitions for cotton wool

cotton wool

(mainly Brit) Also called purified cotton. bleached and sterilized cotton from which the gross impurities, such as the seeds and waxy matter, have been removed: used for surgical dressings, tampons, etc Usual US term absorbent cotton
cotton in the natural state
(Brit, informal)
  1. a state of pampered comfort and protection
  2. (as modifier): a cotton-wool existence
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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