- a formal ball given especially for debutantes.
- a lively French social dance originating in the 18th century, consisting of a variety of steps and figures and performed by couples.
- any of various dances resembling the quadrille.
- music arranged or played for these dances.
- a formalized dance for a large number of people, in which a head couple leads the other dancers through elaborate and stately figures.
Origin of cotillion
Examples from the Web for cotillion
Mitt, dear chap, one is delighted to escort Muffy to the cotillion.Paul Begala: Huntsman Wins South Carolina Debate by Dropping Out
January 17, 2012
The shopwoman displayed her assortment of cotillion objects.A Nest of Spies
It was the week of the Moore cotillion that Miss Winthrop observed the change in him.The Wall Street Girl
Frederick Orin Bartlett
I simply said I wanted to be excused from taking her to the cotillion.
At any rate, under the circumstances I don't feel that I can take you to the cotillion.
During the encampment we have a hop three times a week—a cotillion party.Daisy
- a French formation dance of the 18th century
- US a quadrille
- US a complicated dance with frequent changes of partners
- US and Canadian a formal ball, esp one at which debutantes are presented
Word Origin and History for cotillion
type of dance, 1766, from French cotillion (15c.), originally "petticoat," a double diminutive of Old French cote "skirt" (see coat (n.)); its application to a kind of dance arose in France and is considered obscure by some linguists, but there are lively turns in the dance that flash the petticoats.
Meaning "formal ball" is 1898, American English, short for cotillion ball. French uses -on (from Latin -onem) to reinforce Latin nouns felt to need more emphatic power (e.g. poisson from Latin piscis). It also uses -on to form diminutives, often strengthened by the insertion of -ill-, as in the case of this word.