cot·​ton·​wood ˈkä-tᵊn-ˌwu̇d How to pronounce cottonwood (audio)
: any of several poplars having seeds with cottony hairs
especially : one (Populus deltoides) of the eastern and central U.S. often cultivated for its rapid growth and luxuriant foliage

Examples of cottonwood in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In fall, the Valley glows yellow and gold thanks to copses of aspen and cottonwood trees. Elizabeth Brownfield, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 Clamming in Arizona brings back memories of Cambodia A forest of cottonwood, willow and mesquite trees frame the Verde River. The Arizona Republic, 9 Aug. 2023 But as water was pumped to irrigate alfalfa and other crops in the 1960s and ‘70s, some wetlands dried up and cottonwoods died as water levels declined. Ian James, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 Drought has harmed the preserve’s cottonwood trees too. Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 31 Oct. 2023 Bushwhacking through the cottonwoods that line the wash and past a massive desert tobacco plant’s spray of flutelike flowers reveals the riverbank. Kyle Paoletta, The New Republic, 30 Oct. 2023 Sure, the maples, oaks, sweetgums, and hickories in the Northeast net the most attention during fall foliage season, but there’s a certain poetry in the stately yellows and oranges of the quaking aspens, cottonwoods, and birches out West. Popular Science, 12 Oct. 2023 Temperatures will be a bit warmer, and the stunning colors of Yellowstone's aspens and cottonwoods will make your photos sure to wow. Josh Laskin, Travel + Leisure, 30 Aug. 2023 Guadalupe River Find bright red sumac trees, blazing yellow cottonwoods, pale yellow chinaberries, mixed orange and yellow sycamores, and glowing orange cypress trees along this picturesque river in central Texas. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 25 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cottonwood.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1802, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cottonwood was in 1802

Dictionary Entries Near cottonwood

Cite this Entry

“Cottonwood.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


cot·​ton·​wood -ˌwu̇d How to pronounce cottonwood (audio)
: a poplar with a small bunch of cottony hairs on the seed
especially : one of the eastern and central U.S. that grows rapidly and produces many leaves

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