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See also: Cotton
Cotton plants.


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Etymology 1[edit]

Middle English cotoun, from Anglo-Norman cotun, Old French coton, from (Genoese) Old Italian cotone, from (Egyptian) Arabic قُطُن (quṭun), Andalusian Arabic [script needed] (quṭūn), variants of Arabic قُطْن (quṭn), from the root ق ط ن (q-ṭ-n), possibly originally from Egyptian. The Arabic term qutun may have been derived directly or indirectly from the Akkadian work kitu, which means flax, linen, or a mat.[1]

Cognate to Dutch katoen, German Kattun, Italian cotone, Spanish algodón, and Portuguese algodão.[1]



cotton (usually uncountable, plural cottons)

  1. A plant that encases its seed in a thin fiber that is harvested and used as a fabric or cloth.
  2. Gossypium, a genus of plant used as a source of cotton fiber.
  3. (textiles) The textile made from the fiber harvested from the cotton plant.
  4. (countable) An item of clothing made from cotton.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


cotton (not comparable)

  1. Made of cotton.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 2, in The China Governess[2]:
      Now that she had rested and had fed from the luncheon tray Mrs. Broome had just removed, she had reverted to her normal gaiety.  She looked cool in a grey tailored cotton dress with a terracotta scarf and shoes and her hair a black silk helmet.

Etymology 2[edit]

1560s, either from Welsh cydun, cytun (agree, coincide) (cyduno, cytuno), from cyd, cyt + un (one), literally “to be at one with”, or by metaphor with the textile, as cotton blended well with other textiles, notably wool in hat-making.[1][2][3]


cotton (third-person singular simple present cottons, present participle cottoning, simple past and past participle cottoned)

  1. To get on with someone or something; to have a good relationship with someone.
    • 1873, All the Year Round[3], page 286:
      I want to tell you the Dukes, both mother and son, are cottoning to her fast enough
    • 2009 March 21, Farhad Manjoo, “A Conference That Starts on Time and Stays on Schedule”, in The New York Times[4]:
      The conference — Mr. Allen’s first gathering, and, depending on the economic outlook, maybe his last — brought together entrepreneurs, techies, writers and even some middle managers who’ve cottoned on to his ideas.
Usage notes[edit]

Generally used with prepositions on, to; see cotton on, cotton to.

Derived terms[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 cotton” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2017.
  2. ^ Take Our Word For It: Issue 178, page 2
  3. ^ Folk-etymology: a dictionary of verbal corruptions or words perverted in form or meaning, by false derivation or mistaken analogy, Abram Smythe Palmer, G. Bell and Sons, 1882, p. 76