cotton

noun, often attributive
cot·​ton | \ ˈkä-tᵊn How to pronounce cotton (audio) \

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 How to pronounce cottoning (audio) , ˈkä-​tᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of cotton (Entry 2 of 4)

intransitive verb

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

Cotton

biographical name (1)
Cot·​ton | \ ˈkä-tᵊn How to pronounce Cotton (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Inside the safe injection site on wheels are case managers and health workers armed with clean syringes, cotton balls and tourniquets. Heather Knight, SFChronicle.com, "Bold SF drug-injection site plan faces just one big hurdle: Trump," 26 Oct. 2019 The God of the Forge is easy to put together with a gray shirt and pants, kitchen apron, pie server as his spear, and a DIY beard made with cotton balls, spray paint, and poster paper. Birmingham Magazine, al, "6 Birmingham-themed costumes that will win Halloween," 23 Oct. 2019 Nix your cotton balls for toner and other skincare products. Shalwah Evans, Essence, "5 Simple Ways To Make Your Daily Beauty Routine Eco-Friendly," 2 Oct. 2019 One involves using a pencil eraser; another, a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. Abigail Van Buren, Twin Cities, "Dear Abby: Student’s fear of the future makes every day a struggle," 30 Sep. 2019 One involves using a pencil eraser; another, a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, "Dear Abby: College student’s incessant fear makes life seem an endless struggle," 30 Sep. 2019 All of the cotton, linen and polyester used by Zara will be organic, sustainable or recycled by 2025, parent company Inditex announced this week. Jazmin Goodwin, CNN, "Zara wants all its clothes to be made from sustainable fabrics by 2025," 19 July 2019 That’s when the officer noticed a used cotton ball in the backseat and a syringe. John Benson, cleveland.com, "Brunswick driver’s illegal lane change leads officer to syringes: Brecksville Police Blotter," 21 Aug. 2019 The Casa Grande resident said he was inspired by his mother, who had grown up picking cotton in Texas. Frank O. Sotomayor, azcentral, "Arizona's George Young, first U.S. 4-time Olympic runner, looks back," 17 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Disappointingly, for those of us who cottoned to the folktale of a new economy driven by brilliant little Edisons and Teslas in Everlane, technological breakthroughs were, by 2015, believed to be too easily copied. Wired, "Tech Marketing Is Losing Its Cool," 22 Oct. 2019 She’s in love with a fresh-faced young sailor (Burke Swanson), whom Serafina, having at last cottoned on to Rosario’s infidelity, treats like a seasoned predator. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, "American Dreams in “The Rose Tattoo” and “Soft Power”," 21 Oct. 2019 But Liverpool supporters cottoned on to his comments pretty quickly, taking the very first opportunity to correct the two-time Premier League champion. SI.com, "Pep Guardiola Winds Up Liverpool Twitter With Comments on Aymeric Laporte," 30 Aug. 2019 As more players adopted the Panenka, goalkeepers cottoned on. The Economist, "Lots of investors bet on “factors”, such as size, value and momentum," 18 July 2019 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cotton

Listen to Our Podcast about cotton

Statistics for cotton

Last Updated

17 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for cotton

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cotton

cotton

noun
How to pronounce Cotton (audio)

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
chiefly British : yarn that is made of cotton

cotton

noun
cot·​ton | \ ˈkä-tᵊn How to pronounce cotton (audio) \

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 How to pronounce cotton (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up cotton? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

the exactly right word or phrasing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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