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

  • n. A formal ball, especially one at which young women are presented to society.
  • n. A lively dance, originating in France in the 18th century, having varied, intricate patterns and steps.
  • n. A quadrille.
  • n. Music for these dances.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A bold dance performed in groups of eight where ladies lift their skirts to display their ankles
  • n. The music regulating the cotillion.
  • n. A coming-of-age party meant to present girls newly transitioned into womanhood to the community for courtship
  • n. A kind of woollen material for women's skirts.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A lively French dance, originated in the eighteenth century, for two, eight, or even more performers, and consisting of a variety of steps and figures; specifically, an elaborate series of figures, often known in the United States as the german. The term is now often used as a generic name for several different kinds of quadrille.
  • n. Music arranged or played for a dance.
  • n. A black-and-white woolen fabric used for women's skirts.

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

  • n. a ball at which young ladies are presented to society
  • n. a lively dance originating in France in the 18th century


French cotillon, from Old French, petticoat, diminutive of cote, coat; see coat.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Circa 1750, in the sense of the dance, from French cotillon, originally “petticoat”, extended to the dance because of the distinctive lift of dress revealing the petticoat, from cotte + -illon ("(diminutive)"). Said to derive from the then popular song «Ma commere, quand je danse, Mon cotillion va-t-il bien». (Wiktionary)



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