wrap in cotton wool

wrap someone in cotton wool


  • to be overprotective towards somebody
  • to try to protect somebody too cautiously
  • to guard someone entirely from the threats, risks, and problems of life
  • to protect someone a lot without allowing them to be independent enough

Example Sentences

  1. The mother wrapped the child up in cotton wool as if it would protect him from all the dangers of the world.
  2. You cannot wrap up your children in cotton wool for the whole life.
  3. If you wrap him up in cotton wool now and shield him from meeting new dogs on walks, it’s unlikely his anxiety will get better.
  4. How will your children learn to be independent when you keep wrapping them in cotton wool?
  5. Wise parents let their children live freely and not always wrap them in cotton wool.


The expression originated in the mid-1800s.

Eric Honeywood Partridge, a lexicographer of the English language, explained the expression in his famous work Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.

“Wrap (keep) in cotton wool: cosset, cuddle. Colloquial, from ca. 1870, by mid. 20 c. almost Standard English.”


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