Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A protective case of silk or similar fibrous material spun by the larvae of moths and other insects that serves as a covering for their pupal stage.
  • n. A similar natural protective covering or structure, such as the egg case of a spider.
  • n. A protective plastic coating that is placed over stored military or naval equipment.
  • n. Something suggestive of a cocoon in appearance or purpose: "a congressionally mandated process that will gradually strip these institutions of a cocoon of regulations” ( Edward Meadows).
  • transitive v. To envelop in or as if in a cocoon, as for protection from a harsh or unfriendly environment.
  • intransitive v. To retreat as if into a cocoon, as for security from a harsh or unfriendly environment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The silky protective case spun by the larvae of some insects and moths in which they metamorphose, the pupa.
  • n. Any similar protective case, whether real or metaphorical.
  • v. To envelop in a protective case, or to withdraw into such a case.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An oblong case in which the silkworm lies in its chrysalis state. It is formed of threads of silk spun by the worm just before leaving the larval state. From these the silk of commerce is prepared.
  • n.
  • n. The case constructed by any insect to contain its larva or pupa.
  • n. The case of silk made by spiders to protect their eggs.
  • n. The egg cases of mucus, etc., made by leeches and other worms.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The silky tissue or envelop which the larvæ of many insects spin as a covering for themselves while they are in the chrysalis state. The cocoon of the silkworm is a familiar example. See cut under Bombyx.
  • n. The silken case in which many spiders inclose their eggs.
  • n. Generally, an egg-case, such as is produced by various animals.
  • n. The South African bastard wildebeest or brindled gnu, Catoblepas gorgon. Dallas.
  • To form a cocoon.
  • To wrap as in a cocoon.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. silky envelope spun by the larvae of many insects to protect pupas and by spiders to protect eggs
  • v. retreat as if into a cocoon, as from an unfriendly environment
  • v. wrap in or as if in a cocoon, as for protection

Etymologies

French cocon, from Provençal coucoun, diminutive of coco, shell, from Late Latin coccum, from Latin, berry, oak gall, from Greek kokkos, seed, berry.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French cocon, diminutive of coque ‘shell’. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • He resigned on principle so that he could not be trapped in what he termed the cocoon of collective responsibility to defend or toe the government line.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Mike Dukakis share a similar handicap that I call the "cocoon syndrome."

    Gov. Rick Perry From Two Angles

  • While it would be nice to actually get some reading done during the commute on a train, it's also kind of nice to have the little automobile bubble around you, where you can set your own music and temperature and get a little cocoon from the crazies.

    Cocoon from the Crazies

  • With a small whisk-broom the cocoon is brushed until ends, which are as fine as a cobweb, come loose.

    Six Months in Mexico

  • Yes, the little silken room they weave we call a cocoon, but the ant lions make theirs of silk and sand.

    The Insect Folk

  • In a very short time the gum with which the insect had covered the cocoon is dissolved, and the loose threads will begin to float on the water, and five or six being collected, the reeling of the silk begins.

    The Lady's Country Companion: or, How to Enjoy a Country Life Rationally

  • Of course, we may also have a heightened sensitivity to the obscurations, fear and cloaking -- what we call in Shambhala the "cocoon" -- the web of habitual patterns and manipulation that passes for authenticity but is really a kind of camouflage.

    David Nichtern: Real World Meditation: Why Being Present Matters

  • Obama's high-tech 'cocoon' - Shortly after taking the oath of office, Obama will climb into the Mother of All Hybrids -- part car, part truck and, from the looks of it, part tank.

    Megite Technology News: What's Happening Right Now

  • The worst thing about all of this was that I had a terrible nightmare last night (might have been down to the goat's cheese nestling in cocoon of tapenade and wrapped in a filo pastry parcel resting on a bed of rocket salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar etc ... this also packs a double whammy because it means, I now discover, that I ate anchovy paste by stealth and I can't abide fish) a nightmare about meeting Lembit Opik, not sure where, but Sian Lloyd was in the other room and I was desperately worried that they'd bump into each other and I'd be witness to the slaughter of a serving MP.

    57 entries from March 2007

  • Similarly, instead of being in a strange cocoon like in the book, post-seduction Forcible and Spink’s cocoon is hidden in a giant taffy wrapper (they offer taffy to Coraline in the real world and even retrieve the crucial hole-with-a-stone from the bottom of a taffy bowl).

    Movie Review – Coraline « Become A Robot

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