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To Cotton on to Something

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Kyle from Euless, Texas, wonders about the phrase I don’t cotton to this meaning “I don’t agree with this.” It originated in the textile industry, where cotton is prepared to adhere to another fabric. In the same way, some agricultural terms have given rise to useful metaphors in English; the expressions tough row to hoe, aftermath, and broadcast all originated in the language of farming. This is part of a complete episode.

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