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[kot-n] /ˈkɒt n/
a soft, white, downy substance consisting of the hairs or fibers attached to the seeds of plants belonging to the genus Gossypium, of the mallow family, used in making fabrics, thread, wadding, etc.
the plant itself, having spreading branches and broad, lobed leaves.
such plants collectively as a cultivated crop.
cloth, thread, a garment, etc., of cotton.
any soft, downy substance resembling cotton, but growing on other plants.
verb (used without object)
Informal. to get on well together; agree.
Obsolete. to prosper or succeed.
Verb phrases
cotton (on) to, Informal.
  1. to become fond of; begin to like.
  2. to approve of; agree with:
    to cotton to a suggestion.
  3. to come to a full understanding of; grasp:
    More and more firms are cottoning on to the advantages of using computers.
Origin of cotton
1250-1300; Middle English coton < Old French < Old Italian cotone < Arabic qutun, variant of qutn
Related forms
half-cotton, adjective
semicotton, noun
uncottoned, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for cotton to

cotton to

verb (intransitive, preposition) (US & Canadian, informal)
to become friendly with
to approve of


any of various herbaceous plants and shrubs of the malvaceous genus Gossypium, such as sea-island cotton, cultivated in warm climates for the fibre surrounding the seeds and the oil within the seeds See also sea-island cotton
the soft white downy fibre of these plants: used to manufacture textiles
cotton plants collectively, as a cultivated crop
  1. a cloth or thread made from cotton fibres
  2. (as modifier): a cotton dress
any substance, such as kapok (silk cotton), resembling cotton but obtained from other plants
See also cotton on, cotton to
Derived Forms
cottony, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French coton, from Arabic dialect qutun, from Arabic qutn


Sir Henry. 1907–87, English golfer: three times winner of the British Open (1934, 1937, 1948)
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 cotton to



late 13c., from Old French coton (12c.), ultimately (via Provençal, Italian, or Old Spanish) from Arabic qutn, a word perhaps of Egyptian origin. Philip Miller of the Chelsea Physic Garden sent the first cotton seeds to American colony of Georgia in 1732. Also ultimately from the Arabic word, Dutch katoen, German Kattun, Provençal coton, Italian cotone, Spanish algodon, Portuguese algodão. Cotton gin is recorded from 1794 (see gin (n.2)).



"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 (n.). Related: Cottoned; cottoning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cotton to in Culture

cotton to definition

To take a liking to someone or something: “I was afraid Janet wouldn't like my brother, but she cottoned to him immediately.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for cotton to

cotton to

verb phrase

Approve of; like; appreciate; fancy: ''That's a thing I didn't cotton to anyhow,'' said Miss Fuschia Leach, who had found her talent did not lie that way

[1605+; perhaps fr Welsh cytuno, ''agree, consent'']


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with cotton to

cotton to

Take a liking to, get along with, as in This dog doesn't cotton to strangers. Although this verbal phrase comes from the noun for the fabric, the semantic connection between these parts of speech is unclear. [ Early 1800s ]
Also,cotton on to. Come to understand, grasp, as in She didn't really cotton on to what I was saying. [ ; early 1900s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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