cotton on

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Senior Member
Dear all
As far as I know “cotton on” means to understand or perceive the meaning of something but I don’t think it applies here in the following context from “Manhattan Transfer” by Dos Passos. Please advise what’s meant by “He’d cotton on to the proposition” in the context:
Time: 1910s
Sandbourne is a young American architect who has a formula for production of some kind of tile which , according to him, will revolutionize the whole industry.
"...You must come up to dinner when Cecily’s there and tell us about it. . . Why wont Parkurst do anything?”
I wouldn’t let him in on it. He’d cotton on to the proposition and leave me out in the cold once he had the formula. I wouldn’t trust him with a rubber nickel.”
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    To "cotton to" or "cotton onto" something also means to take a liking to it. Here, it appears to mean that the subject will like the proposition so well that he'll take it over.
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