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cot·ton (kŏtn)
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n.
1.
a. Any of various shrubby plants of the genus Gossypium, having showy flowers and grown for the soft white downy fibers surrounding oil-rich seeds.
b. The fiber of any of these plants, used in making textiles and other products.
c. Thread or cloth manufactured from the fiber of these plants.
2. Any of various soft downy substances produced by other plants, as on the seeds of a cottonwood.
intr.v. cot·toned, cot·ton·ing, cot·tons
Informal
1. To take a liking; attempt to be friendly: a dog that didn't cotton to strangers; an administration that will cotton up to the most repressive of regimes.
2. To come to understand. Often used with to or onto: "The German bosses ... never cottoned to such changes" (N.R. Kleinfield).

[Middle English cotoun, from Old French coton, from Old Italian cotone, from Arabic qun, quun; see qn in the Appendix of Semitic roots.]
(click for a larger image)
cotton
cotton plant with bolls

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
Cot·ton (kŏtn), John 1584?-1652.
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English-born American cleric who was vicar of Saint Botolph's Church in England until he was summoned to court for his Puritanism. He fled to Boston, Massachusetts, where he became a civil and religious leader.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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