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
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 quṭn, quṭun; see qṭn 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 ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus