A soft, downy substance, resembling fine wool, consisting of the unicellular twisted hairs which grow on the seeds of the cotton plant. Long-staple cotton has a fiber sometimes almost two inches long; short-staple, from two thirds of an inch to an inch and a half.
- Any of various shrubby plants of the genus Gossypium, having showy flowers and grown for the soft white downy fibers surrounding oil-rich seeds.
- The fiber of any of these plants, used in making textiles and other products.
- Thread or cloth manufactured from the fiber of these plants.
- The crop of these plants.
- Any of various soft downy substances produced by other plants, as on the seeds of a cottonwood.
- Informal 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.
- Informal To come to understand. Often used with to or onto: "The German bosses . . . never cottoned to such changes” ( N.R. Kleinfield).