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
- The mother wrapped the child up in cotton wool as if it would protect him from all the dangers of the world.
- You cannot wrap up your children in cotton wool for the whole life.
- 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.
- How will your children learn to be independent when you keep wrapping them in cotton wool?
- 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.”