cotton


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Related to cotton: silk

cotton on

To begin to understand something; to grasp fully; to catch on. Primarily heard in UK. It took me a few moments to cotton on, but I soon realized that they were talking about me.
See also: cotton, on

be in tall cotton

To be in a time or period of great success or wellbeing; to be doing very well. We were in tall cotton after my wife's late uncle left us his fortune. I hear Jeff's in tall cotton out in New York City.
See also: cotton, tall

be touching cotton

semi-vulgar slang To have a very urgent or desperate need to defecate. (Refers jokingly to one's feces protruding into one's underpants.) Boy, it's a good thing we got home when we did—I was touching cotton on the way here!
See also: cotton, touching

high cotton

A state of success (likened to the image of a field of well-growing cotton plants). Typically used in the phrase "in high cotton." I can't believe I got such good grades this semester—I'm really in high cotton now!
See also: cotton, high

live in cotton wool

To lead a sheltered life, one devoid of stress and danger. The image here is of being wrapped in cotton and thus protected. Primarily heard in UK. I never realized how much I had been living in cotton wool until I traveled and saw what true poverty looks like.
See also: cotton, live, wool

cotton (on)to someone or something

Rur. to begin to like or agree to someone or something quickly. She began to cotton to Fred, despite his country ways. She cottoned onto Jane's way of thinking.
See also: cotton

cotton up to someone

Rur. to try to make friends with someone; to flatter or fawn on someone in hopes of favorable treatment. James set out to cotton up to the parents of his friends. Just watch her cotton up to the teacher!
See also: cotton, up

in high cotton

 and in tall cotton
Rur. to be doing very well; successful. Jim's in high cotton ever since he got that raise. Tom: How's your sister? Mary: She's in high cotton. Just bought a nice new house. We were in tall cotton until the IRS caught up with us.
See also: cotton, high

in low cotton

Rur. depressed. She was in low cotton because her dress got torn. Jed is in low cotton because his favorite hound is dead.
See also: cotton, low

cotton to somebody/something

to like someone or something The public did not cotton to her new CD.
See also: cotton

Bless her/his cotton socks.

  (British & Australian humorous)
something that you say when you want to express affection for someone My little niece - bless her cotton socks - won the school poetry prize this year.
See also: bless, cotton, sock

cotton-picking

  (American & Australian informal)
something that you say before a noun to express anger Get your cotton-picking feet off my chair!

wrap somebody up in cotton wool

  (British & Australian)
to protect someone too much without allowing them to be independent enough She wraps that child up in cotton wool as if he's some precious jewel.
See drape in the flag, twist around little finger
See also: cotton, up, wool, wrap

cotton to

1. Take a liking to, get along with, as in This dog doesn't cotton to strangers. Although this verbal phrase comes from the noun for the fabric, the semantic connection between these parts of speech is unclear. [Early 1800s]
2. Also, cotton on to. Come to understand, grasp, as in She didn't really cotton on to what I was saying. [Colloquial; early 1900s]
See also: cotton

cotton onto

v.
To come to understand something: I finally cottoned onto the new method.
See also: cotton

cotton to

v.
1. To take a liking to someone or something: That dog doesn't cotton to strangers.
2. To come to understand something: I finally cottoned to the new computer system.
See also: cotton

cotton up

v.
To attempt to be friendly to someone or something: The teachers all cottoned up to the new principal.
See also: cotton, up

cotton-picking

and cotton-pickin’
mod. worthless; damned. (Folksy.) Who is this cotton-picking bigwig pushing us around?

cotton-pickin’

verb

in tall cotton

mod. successful; on easy street. (Folksy.) I won some money at the track, and I’m really in tall cotton.
See also: cotton, tall
References in classic literature ?
said my aunt, taking the cotton out of the ear nearest to him.
said my aunt, taking out the cotton on that side again.
My love," he said, shaking his head as she looked beseechingly at him, "I have too much Manchester cotton in my constitution for long idylls.
As Cotton Mather was a very distinguished man, Grandfather took some pains to give the children a lively conception of his character.
All these books, no doubt, were tossed about in confusion, thus forming a visible emblem of the manner in which their contents were crowded into Cotton Mather's brain.
We all admired the cotton for Adam's sake, and, indeed, it was very long and glossy.
You see my Chief had promised me in writing that if I could scrape up a surplus he would not bag it for his roads this time, but I might have it for my cotton game.
Anything more monotonous and wearying could not be imagined, for, even at the most open places, I could not see more than ten or twelve yards, while usually my vision was limited to the back of Lord John's cotton jacket in front of me, and to the yellow wall within a foot of me on either side.
They had to resort to the brook in the woods behind the Cotton house.
Miss Cotton and her brother sat in the back parlor after school was over, and the young ladies were sent to bed.
Sir Robert Cotton loved books especially, and like many other book lovers, he was greedy of them.
He took a large cotton bag from a shelf, put it on his head, and pulled it far down to his very nose.
Caesar had his Brutus--the cotton has its boliworm, the chorus girl has her Pittsburger, the summer boarder has his poison ivy, the hero has his Carnegie medal, art has its Morgan, the rose has its--"
Following the housewarming, which was accomplished by means of seal-oil and a wick made from cotton calking, came the hunting for our winter's meat and the building of the second hut.
The laborers were obviously of the household: two were young men in cotton shirts and caps, the two others were hired laborers in homespun shirts, one an old man, the other a young fellow.