Definition of cotillion in US English:



  • 1An 18th-century French dance based on the contredanse.

    • ‘They danced the first cotillion mechanically.’
    • ‘The first was a cotillion that Tony led her through with expert ease and grace.’
    • ‘She brushed off his request to dance the second cotillion with him, using the graceful, courteous snubbery he had spent so long teaching her.’
    • ‘The group continued to talk until Tony led Christina out onto the floor to dance a cotillion.’
    1. 1.1US A quadrille.
  • 2US A formal ball, especially one at which debutantes are presented.

    • ‘We have a cotillion type of event on Saturday evening.’
    • ‘The Knights' social functions - formal dinners, balls, and cotillions - also reflected members' aspirations toward middle-class refinement.’
    • ‘I've never been much for balls and cotillions though I have to attend them endlessly.’
    • ‘The home is lighted with gas, and the quantity consumed being greater than common, it gave out suddenly in the middle of a cotillion.’
    • ‘‘My grandfather remembers fondly how you danced together at the cotillion.’’
    • ‘We met only once, at that debutante cotillion.’
    • ‘Michael had surprisingly received an invitation from Heather to join her at one of her cotillions and he expressed genuine interest - though still surprised that she would think to invite him.’
    • ‘The old Society page, with its news of old-family weddings, cotillions, and charity balls, began everywhere to be replaced in newspapers by the Style page, a very different thing.’
    • ‘Whether it was a prom, a cotillion, a fancy dinner - most people here have some kind of Ambassador experience.’
    • ‘This was the crown of the senior year, the cotillion of cotillions.’
    • ‘Oh, because I just saw her outside with her escort buying a dress for the cotillion and she invited us over for dinner tonight.’
    • ‘When I was a girl, I had dreamed of a wedding in our church of Savannah, my father taking me down the aisle way and my sister my maid of honor, my mother of course the hostess for she held the finest cotillions in all of Georgia.’
    • ‘Thusly, she occupied a strange, shadowy social world where she was too wealthy to be excluded, but not worth talking to, and she moved like a ghost about the edges of cotillions and coming outs, pale and unsmiling.’
    • ‘They gave their children every advantage, and a life in which elegant parties and cotillions were routine.’
    • ‘He enjoyed the best of the Old World's opulence and grace-plays and operas, symphonies and museums, soirées and cotillions.’


Early 18th century: from French cotillon, literally ‘petticoat dance’, diminutive of cotte, from Old French cote.