[kot-n-pik-uh n]
Also cot·ton·pick·ing [kot-n-pik-uh n, -pik-ing] /ˈkɒt nˌpɪk ən, -ˌpɪk ɪŋ/.

Origin of cottonpickin'

An Americanism dating back to 1950–55; cotton + pick1 + -ing2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cotton-picking

Historical Examples of cotton-picking

  • They telled me she was a good cook; and they can use her for that, or set her at the cotton-picking.

    Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • All they are fit for is education for cotton-picking and dish-washing.


    W. E. B. Du Bois

  • And Cassy, by reason of her indulgent rearing, had had as little experience as Tom in cotton-picking.

    The Brothers' War

    John Calvin Reed

  • When school-time came there was not yet money enough, for cotton-picking was not far advanced.

  • Cotton-picking is at once the most difficult and most expensive operation in cotton production.

British Dictionary definitions for cotton-picking


  1. US and Canadian slang (intensifier qualifying something undesirable)you cotton-picking layabout!
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 cotton-picking

as a deprecatory term first recorded in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but a similar noun meaning "contemptible person" dates to around 1919, perhaps with racist overtones that have faded over the years. Before mechanization, cotton picking was the most difficult labor on a cotton plantation.

I drove out to a number of the farms near Denison and found many very young white children working all day in the hot sun picking and dragging sacks of cotton. In one field the labor corps consisted of one woman and six children, one of them 5 years, one 6 years, one 7 years, one 9 years, and two about 11. The father was plowing. The 5 and 6 year olds worked all day as did the rest. The 7-year-old said he picked 50 pounds a day and the 9 year old 75 pounds. (A good picker averages several hundred a day.) School begins late on account of the cotton picking, but the children nearly all prefer school to the picking. Picking hours are long, hot, and deadly monotonous. While the very young children seem to enjoy it, very soon their distaste for it grows into all-absorbing hatred for all work. ["Field Notes of Lewis W. Hine, Child-Labor Conditions in Texas," report to U.S. Congressional Commission on Industrial Relations, 1916]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper