Definition of cotton in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkɒt(ə)n/


[mass noun]
1A soft white fibrous substance which surrounds the seeds of the cotton plant and is made into textile fibre and thread for sewing: a cargo of cotton and wheat
More example sentences
  • I dressed quickly and simply in a white dress of soft cotton.
  • It is woven of white wool with red cotton piping.
  • While drying thousands of pounds of black and white cotton clothing, she slowly monoprinted texts on the lint trapped against the screen.
1.1 [often as modifier] Textile fabric made from cotton fibre: a white cotton blouse
More example sentences
  • Handwoven cotton cloth is sewn into wraps for women and tunics for men, as well as into blankets.
  • Today, dedicated to report-writing, I was wearing a cotton blouse and linen skirt.
  • Warm up the stock over a gentle heat, so it liquifies completely, then strain it carefully through muslin or a cotton cloth.
1.2Thread made from cotton fibre: [as modifier]: a cotton reel
More example sentences
  • Toy cotton reels or buttons can be sorted by colour or threaded on to laces, while plastic pegs can be used for pattern-making and counting.
  • The coils sit on cotton reel spools that are placed on the plastic ribs that make up the ovoid shape.
  • If there's more than one tray, place four cotton reels strategically so that you can stack one tray on top of another.
1.3North American Cotton wool.
Example sentences
  • Once they conceive a quilt, the fabrics are chosen, cut up and combined using organic cotton wadding.
  • Fluid may be cleaned from the connection sites with cotton swabs, if needed.
  • Cotton swab palpation of areas outside the vulvar vestibule result in minimal pain.
2 (also cotton plant) The tropical and subtropical plant which is commercially grown to make cotton fabric and thread. Oil and a protein-rich flour are also obtained from the seeds.
  • Genus Gossypium, family Malvaceae: many species and forms.
Example sentences
  • The cotton plant is very sensitive to low available soil K.
  • Although the cotton plant can tolerate leaf damage and tip boring up to 50 per cent before yield is reduced, it is more susceptible to pest damage than most crops especially in the rainy season.
  • A period of 6 weeks is required for a cotton plant to complete opening of all bolls.


[no object] informal
1 (cotton on) Begin to understand: he cottoned on to what I was trying to say
More example sentences
  • In identifying that sport can act to promote social inclusion, it perhaps was years ahead of the government, whose social-inclusion partnerships are barely beginning to cotton on to the fact.
  • However, it seems many firms are beginning to cotton on.
  • English divers are beginning to cotton on to the underwater delights of Ireland's Atlantic coast.
2 (cotton to) North American Have a liking for: his rivals didn’t cotton to all the attention he was getting
More example sentences
  • I never quite cottoned to his replacement.
  • Of course, once Joe cottoned to this idea of visual stimulation, he completely threw himself into it.
  • The government could reduce other spending, but that will be difficult because all government spending is backed by well-organized interest groups who do not cotton to proposed cuts.



Example sentences
  • Additionally, as one might imagine, the cottony head of the plant made an excellent all-purpose swab.
  • Her hands made contact with soft, cottony material.
  • The sky was a powder blue and white, cottony clouds rolled by, sometimes passing by the sun and blocking its rays and creating shadows on earth.


Late Middle English: from Old French coton, from Arabic quṭn.

Words that rhyme with cotton

begotten, forgotten, ill-gotten, misbegotten, rotten

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cot¦ton

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