Word Origin & History
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