noun (1)
\ ˈkät How to pronounce cot (audio) \

Definition of cot

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a small house
2 : cover, sheath especially : stall sense 4


noun (2)

Definition of cot (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a small usually collapsible bed often of fabric stretched on a frame
2 British : crib sense 2b

Definition of cot (Entry 3 of 3)


First Known Use of cot

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cot

Noun (1)

Middle English, "dwelling of a rural laborer, cottage, hut," going back to Old English cot (neuter a-stem) "dwelling of a rural laborer, bedchamber," going back to Germanic *kuta- "shelter" (whence also Middle Dutch cot "hut, hovel, pen for animals," Old Icelandic kot "hut, cottage"), of uncertain origin

Note: Alongside Old English cot is cote, a feminine weak noun (see cote entry 1). The Dictionary of Old English and Middle English Dictionary collapse the entries for the two words, and, in fact, it is not always possible to assign inflected forms to one or the other. The Oxford English Dictionary, on the other hand, keeps them separate, though it notes that definite attestations of cot are very meager between Old English and early Modern English. The lemma for the words in the Dictionary of Old English is cott, cotte, but the geminate spellings only occur in the Lindisfarne Gospels, and would seem to be of purely graphic significance. The sense "bedchamber" (translating Latin cubile and cubiculum) occurs only in the Lindisfarne and Rushworth Gospels. — The Germanic noun appears to be the zero-grade form of a root attested in other grades, as suggested by G. Kroonen (Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic) and elsewhere; compare Old English cyte "monastic cell, shepherd's hut" (for *cīete), central German regional/dialect Kötze "basket for carrying on the shoulders, pannier," Norwegian køyta "wickerwork hut" (from *kautjōn-?); central German Kietze, Kitze "bark container, pannier" (from *keutja/ō-?). (Kroonen also adduces Kiez/Kietz, originally "place where fishermen live," now "district of a city, red-light district," but as this word was native to northeastern Germany, a source with High German consonantism is unlikely.) Comparisons beyond Germanic are uncertain. If proto-Finno-Ugric *kota is relevant (compare Finnish kota "hut, house," Hungarian ház "house"), a European substratal origin is possible, though its introduction into Germanic would have to postdate Grimm's law.

Noun (2)

Hindi & Urdu khāṭ bedstead, from Sanskrit khaṭvā, perhaps of Dravidian origin; akin to Tamil kaṭṭil bedstead

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best mattresses.

Learn More About cot

Time Traveler for cot

Time Traveler

The first known use of cot was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near cot




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for cot

Cite this Entry

“Cot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for cot


\ ˈkät How to pronounce cot (audio) \

Kids Definition of cot

: a narrow bed often made to fold up


\ ˈkät How to pronounce cot (audio) \

Medical Definition of cot

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a protective cover for a finger

called also fingerstall



Medical Definition of cot (Entry 2 of 2)

: a wheeled stretcher for hospital, mortuary, or ambulance service

More from Merriam-Webster on cot

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cot

Nglish: Translation of cot for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cot for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!