• synonyms


See more synonyms for cotter on Thesaurus.com
  1. a pin, wedge, key, or the like, fitted or driven into an opening to secure something or hold parts together.
  2. cotter pin.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to secure with a cotter.
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Origin of cotter1

1300–50; Middle English coter; akin to late Middle English coterell iron bracket; of uncertain origin


  1. Scot. a person occupying a plot of land and cottage, paid for in services.
  2. cottager(def 2).
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Origin of cotter2

1175–1225; Middle English cotere < Anglo-French cot(i)er; see cot2, -er2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cotter

Historical Examples

  • We soon rounded the point, and Cotter and the trappers and the Post were lost to view.

    The Long Labrador Trail

    Dillon Wallace

  • There was only room beside me for Cotter, so I had him send down the knapsacks first.

  • I want to live in a cot like a cotter—that is, for us to live like two cotters.

  • The young men visited the cotter, and returned with the cart and the news.

    The Art of Disappearing

    John Talbot Smith

  • Whereupon Walton grinned and Cotter, with a sigh, begged him to scowl again!

    Left Guard Gilbert

    Ralph Henry Barbour

British Dictionary definitions for cotter


  1. any part, such as a pin, wedge, key, etc, that is used to secure two other parts so that relative motion between them is prevented
  2. short for cotter pin
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  1. (tr) to secure (two parts) with a cotter
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Word Origin

C14: shortened from cotterel, of unknown origin


  1. Also called: cottier English history a villein in late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman times occupying a cottage and land in return for labour
  2. Also called: cottar a peasant occupying a cottage and land in the Scottish Highlands under the same tenure as an Irish cottier
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Word Origin

C14: from Medieval Latin cotārius, from Middle English cote cot ²
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

Word Origin and History for cotter


1640s, perhaps a shortened form of cotterel, a dialectal word for "cotter pin or bolt, bracket to hang a pot over a fire" (1560s), itself of uncertain origin.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper