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Source of phrase

Posted by James Briggs on November 29, 2000

In Reply to: Source of phrase posted by Nola Mosier on November 29, 2000

: What is the source of the phrase "I don't cotton to" or "I cotton to"

To cotton on to someone is to adhere to them, perhaps when not wanted; or to eventually understand an idea or intention when, again perhaps when this is unwelcome.

The origin here is nothing more than the fact that cotton thread seems to stick to almost anything and can be difficult to dislodge. The saying is recorded in a play as early as 1605. Clearly the saying is a lot older.