cotton-picking ‎(uncountable)

  1. The harvesting of cotton
    • 1859 Opportunities for Industry and the Safe Investment of Capital
      The season of cotton-picking commences in the latter part of July, and continues without intermission to the Christmas holidays.



  1. (US, idiomatic, colloquial) An intensifier, like "darn", used for emphasis or to signify that something is of little value.
    • 1959, U.S. Army Aviation Center, U.S. Army Aviation School, United States Army aviation digest, page 31:
      "Now hold up here just a cotton-picking minute,"
    • 1967, Howard Fast. The Hunter and the Trap, page 14:
      "Oh, wait one damn cotton-picking minute," Andy said.
  2. (US, idiomatic, pejorative, colloquial) Describes a person who tends to become involved in matters outside of his area of concern.
    • 1975, Richard M Nixon - Containing the Public Messages, Speeches, and Statements of the President:
      I think the President's Adviser on Domestic Affairs should keep his cotton-picking hands off the economic policy for a change.


  • 1965, “American law reports annotated. second series”, volume 76, page 1276: 
    "...are not entitled to anything, Mrs. Wright, (referring to one of the appellees), because your son (referring to the deceased, F.A. Wright, Jr.), was a cotton picking Negro."

Usage notesEdit

  • Often used with hands, as in "keep your cotton-picking hands off" (something or someone).
  • Also commonly used with minute, especially the phrase "wait just a cotton-picking minute".
  • Originally referred to slaves and other low status workers in the southern United States who picked cotton in fields by hand.
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