[kuh-til-yuh n, koh-] /kəˈtɪl yən, koʊ-/

a formal ball given especially for debutantes.
a lively French social dance originating in the 18th century, consisting of a variety of steps and figures and performed by couples.
any of various dances resembling the quadrille.
music arranged or played for these dances.
a formalized dance for a large number of people, in which a head couple leads the other dancers through elaborate and stately figures.
/kəˈtɪljən; kəʊ-/
a French formation dance of the 18th century
(US) a quadrille
(US) a complicated dance with frequent changes of partners
(US & Canadian) a formal ball, esp one at which debutantes are presented

type of dance, 1766, from French cotillion (15c.), originally “petticoat,” a double diminutive of Old French cote “skirt” (see coat (n.)); its application to a kind of dance arose in France and is considered obscure by some linguists, but there are lively turns in the dance that flash the petticoats.

Meaning “formal ball” is 1898, American English, short for cotillion ball. French uses -on (from Latin -onem) to reinforce Latin nouns felt to need more emphatic power (e.g. poisson from Latin piscis). It also uses -on to form diminutives, often strengthened by the insertion of -ill-, as in the case of this word.


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