cotton wool

noun
1.
cotton in its raw state, as on the boll or gathered but unprocessed.
2.

Origin:
1590–1600

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cotton wool
 
n
1.  chiefly (Brit) Also called: purified cotton, Usual US term: absorbent 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
2.  cotton in the natural state
3.  informal (Brit)
 a.  a state of pampered comfort and protection
 b.  (as modifier): a cotton-wool existence

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Example sentences
But the way to nurture them is not to wrap them in cotton wool and to step in with help every time markets are tough.
Or they'll say that bullfighters stop up the nostrils of bulls with cotton wool.
Boot marks on the stomach, fist-sized holes in the back, cotton wool stuffed into them.
At the back of the drawer sat the white swan's egg cushioned in a bed of cotton wool.
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