cotton

noun, often attributive
cot·​ton | \ ˈkä-tᵊn \

Definition of cotton

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : a soft usually white fibrous substance composed of the hairs surrounding the seeds of various erect freely branching tropical plants (genus Gossypium) of the mallow family
b : a plant producing cotton especially : one grown for its cotton
c : a crop of cotton
2a : fabric made of cotton
b : yarn spun from cotton
3 : a downy cottony substance produced by various plants (such as the cottonwood)

cotton

verb
cottoned; cottoning\ ˈkät-​niŋ , ˈkä-​tᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of cotton (Entry 2 of 4)

intransitive verb

1 : to take a liking used with to cottons to people easily
2 : to come to understand used with to or on to cottoned on to the fact that our children work furiously— H. M. McLuhan

Cotton

biographical name (1)
Cot·​ton | \ ˈkä-tᵊn \

Definition of Cotton (Entry 3 of 4)

Charles 1630–1687 English author and translator

Cotton

biographical name (2)

Definition of Cotton (Entry 4 of 4)

John 1585–1652 American (English-born) Puritan clergyman

Illustration of cotton

Illustration of cotton

Noun

cotton: 1 flowering branch; 2 fruit, unopened; 3 fruit, partly opened

In the meaning defined above

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Examples of cotton in a Sentence

Noun

They are in the field picking cotton. She doesn't wear cotton in the winter.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

He and his family migrate to the Tashkent region during the cotton-picking season each year. Thomas Grove, WSJ, "Uzbekistan Aims to End Forced Labor in Cotton Fields," 17 Dec. 2018 So, instead, opt for a smooth cotton shirt when drying your hair. Jillian Ruffo, Seventeen, "8 Insanely Easy Tips For The Softest Hair Of Your Life," 28 Nov. 2018 Printed on Bella + Canvas 3001 unisex shirts in multiple colors and plenty of sizes (everything from S-4XL), our shirts are 100 percent combed and ring-spun cotton (except for heather, which contains some polyester). Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, "Caffeinate in style with an Ars Technica mug—now cheaper than ever," 12 Oct. 2018 Ralph Lauren Striped cotton shirt, $590, Ralph Lauren Middleton and Markle's trip to the Wimbledon women's final marks the first time the duo have stepped out together, without their husbands. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Wears a Stripey Ralph Lauren Shirt with Chic White Pants at Wimbledon," 14 July 2018 Prada short-sleeve cotton polo shirt Refined enough to rock with a suit, badass enough to stand up to your toughest leather jacket. Yang-yi Goh, GQ, "Your Next Polo Shirt Should Be a Bold and Trippy ’70s Throwback," 26 Apr. 2018 The two siblings are in the third generation of a family that has worked a 200-acre spread near Natchitoches, where the crops include cotton, pecans and soybeans. Greg Larose, NOLA.com, "Carol Balthazar, New Orleans business leader, dies at 66," 12 Mar. 2018 But with cotton long gone and oysters in steep decline, Apalachicola’s economy is now largely based on the kindness—and spending power—of strangers. Gully Wells, WSJ, "A Trip to the Florida of Yore," 12 Dec. 2018 Gagliardi says to wash your cotton or poly blend sheets and bedding in hot water, which won't harm them. Gigi Engle, SELF, "7 Tips for Cleaning Up After Sex Gets Messy," 12 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But in the past year or so, some manufacturers have cottoned on to the idea and started releasing devices that can keep up with more than a dozen tabs. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "HP Chromebook x2 review: semi-pro," 27 Sep. 2018 But the last two months, batters have cottoned onto him. Maria Torres, kansascity, "Home runs bite Jakob Junis again as Royals lose to Brewers," 26 June 2018 By the 1980s, the rallying crowd had cottoned on and started sending increasingly specialized cars to Colorado. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "This electric car could set a new record to the top of Pikes Peak this year," 19 Mar. 2018 If relay is 15% cheaper than conventional trucking, as Mr Garg claims, others will cotton on. The Economist, "The Indian pony expressRivigo is helping the Indian truck-driving industry out of a jam," 30 Sep. 2017 But not everyone will cotton to a former business district that still lacks many residential amenities. C. J. Hughes, New York Times, "Where to Live When the L Train Shuts Down," 26 May 2017 His loyal readers will cotton to the idea — calico to it! — that the future lies in the fun, and thus that the future is fun. Virginia Heffernan, New York Times, "Steven Johnson on How Play Shaped the World," 22 Nov. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cotton.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cotton

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cotton

Noun

Middle English coton, from Anglo-French cotun, from Old Italian cotone, from Arabic quṭun, quṭn

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Last Updated

13 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cotton

The first known use of cotton was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for cotton

cotton

noun

English Language Learners Definition of cotton

: a soft, white material that grows on the seeds of a tall plant and that is used to make cloth; also : the plants on which this material grows

: cloth that is made of cotton; also : clothing that is made of this cloth

: yarn that is made of cotton

cotton

noun
cot·​ton | \ ˈkä-tᵊn \

Kids Definition of cotton

1 : a soft fluffy usually white material made up of twisted hairs that surrounds the seeds of a tall plant of warm regions and is spun into thread or yarn
2 : thread, yarn, or cloth made from cotton

Other Words from cotton

cotton adjective cotton handkerchiefs

cotton

noun, often attributive
cot·​ton | \ ˈkät-ᵊn \

Medical Definition of cotton

1 : a soft usually white fibrous substance composed of the hairs surrounding the seeds of various erect freely branching tropical plants (genus Gossypium) of the mallow family and used extensively in making threads, yarns, and fabrics (as in surgical dressings)
2 : a plant producing cotton especially : one grown for its cotton

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More from Merriam-Webster on cotton

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cotton

Spanish Central: Translation of cotton

Nglish: Translation of cotton for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cotton for Arabic Speakers

Comments on cotton

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