Posts Tagged ‘idiomatic expressions’

Since I used the phrase don’t cotton to in a poem the other day, I thought I should give credit where credit is due and see if I could find something about its history on teh interwebs.

Here is what I found on wiki answers (probably not the greatest authority on such matters, but I did find my copy, without actually trying, by way of cleaning off a shelf, of Charles Earle Funk’s Hog on Ice the other day. Said book was referenced by our dear Uncle Doug in a comment on yet another recent blog post in which I wrote a bit about other idiomatic and/or folksy sayings). But Monsieur Funk had not a word to say about don’t cotton to, so take it away wiki:

This phrase dates from somewhere in the 16th Century. Originally, it was a textile term – to “cotton” or “cotton well” referred to the success of the fibers melding together to form cotton cloth. Around the 16th Century, the phrase began to be used to mean “to be successful,” or “to prosper” in reference to people and things. About the 19th Century, the phrase “to cotton to” began to see use, and meant “to be drawn to” or “to get along with.”

If you do not “cotton to” something, then you don’t care for it. This phrase is particularly common in the South, where the cotton industry formed the basis for the economy for many years.

Howdy, folks! It’s me again (so you know this isn’t still wiki). Any thought that this phrase has to do with African American slaves and cotton is not to be found…such association would likely be based on one’s tendency to connect the wrong dots with the right instincts. Or is that the right dots with the wrong instincts? Help. This could keep me awake all night or some portion thereof. Maybe I am obsessive. Or compulsive. Or chronic.

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