Definition of cotton noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈkɒtn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈkɑːtn//
    [uncountable] Crops
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  1. 1   a plant grown in warm countries for the soft white hairs around its seeds that are used to make cloth and thread cotton fields/plants bales of cotton Culture In the 19th century the cotton industry made the north-west of England one of the richest areas in the world. The cotton arrived at the port of Liverpool, was made into clothes in factories in Lancashire, and the clothes could be sent to other countries from Liverpool. The new inventions of the Industrial Revolution meant that the Lancashire factories could produce cotton goods and sell them around the world at lower prices than local goods. In the 20th century many other countries developed their own cotton industries, and most of the Lancashire factories closed.In the US, the production of cotton was greatly improved after Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin (= a machine for separating the seeds of a cotton plant from the cotton). The economy of the South was strongly based on cotton in the 19th century, and this led to the Civil War because the cotton plantations (= large farms) kept slaves. When the boll weevil insects destroyed many cotton fields in the early 20th century, Southern farmers began to grow other crops. See related entries: Crops
  2. 2   the cloth made from the cotton plant The sheets are 100% pure cotton. a cotton shirt/skirt printed cotton cloth the cotton industry a cotton mill a pure cotton T-shirt shivering in her thin cotton nightdress
  3. 3(especially British English) thread that is used for sewing sewing cotton a cotton reel
  4. 4(North American English) (also US English absorbent cotton) (British English cotton wool) a soft mass of white material that is used for cleaning the skin or a wound Use a cotton ball to apply the lotion.
  5. Word Originlate Middle English: from Old French coton, from Arabic quṭn.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: cotton