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verb (used with object), copped, cop·ping. Informal.
  1. to catch; nab.
  2. to steal; filch.
  3. to buy (narcotics).
Verb Phrases
  1. cop out,
    1. to avoid one's responsibility, the fulfillment of a promise, etc.; renege; back out (often followed by on or of): He never copped out on a friend in need. You agreed to go, and you can't cop out now.
    2. cop a plea.
  1. cop a plea,
    1. to plead guilty or confess in return for receiving a lighter sentence.
    2. to plead guilty to a lesser charge as a means of bargaining one's way out of standing trial for a more serious charge; plea-bargain.

Origin of cop1

1695–1705; compare cap (obsolete) to arrest, Scots cap to seize ≪ dialectal Old French caper to take, ultimately < Latin capere


noun Informal.
  1. a police officer.
  2. a person who seeks to regulate a specified behavior, activity, practice, etc.: character cops.

Origin of cop2

First recorded in 1855–60; clipping of copper2


  1. a conical mass of thread, yarn, etc., wound on a spindle.
  2. British Dialect. crest; tip.

Origin of cop3

before 1000; Middle English, Old English cop tip, top (in ME also head), probably cognate with Dutch kop, German Kopf head; see cup


  1. coefficient of performance.


  1. copper.
  2. copyright; copyrighted.


  1. Copernican.
  2. Coptic.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cop

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • This cop that found me in a hallway, he says I must have been give a dose of Peter.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • This was as close as a robot could look to a cop in uniform, without being a joke.

    Arm of the Law

    Harry Harrison

  • But a robot can't take the place of a cop, it's a complex human job.

    Arm of the Law

    Harry Harrison

  • And the police would be to blame for it all—sending a tin robot to do a cop's job.

    Arm of the Law

    Harry Harrison

  • The other cop had yanked out O'Neill's wallet, and now tossed it to Gordon.

    Police Your Planet

    Lester del Rey

British Dictionary definitions for cop


  1. another name for policeman
  2. British an arrest (esp in the phrase a fair cop)
  3. an instance of plagiarism
verb cops, copping or copped (tr)
  1. to seize or catch
  2. to steal
  3. to buy, steal, or otherwise obtain (illegal drugs)Compare score (def. 26)
  4. Also: cop it to suffer (a punishment)you'll cop a clout if you do that!
  5. cop it sweet Australian slang
    1. to accept a penalty without complaint
    2. to have good fortune
See also cop off, cop out

Word Origin

C18: (vb) perhaps from obsolete cap to arrest, from Old French caper to seize; sense 1, back formation from copper ²


  1. a conical roll of thread wound on a spindle
  2. mainly dialect the top or crest, as of a hill

Word Origin

Old English cop, copp top, summit, of uncertain origin; perhaps related to Old English copp cup


  1. British slang (usually used with a negative) worth or valuethat work is not much cop

Word Origin

C19: n use of cop 1 (in the sense: to catch, hence something caught, something of value)


abbreviation for (in New Zealand)
  1. Certificate of Proficiency: a pass in a university subject
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cop


1704, northern British dialect, "to seize, to catch," perhaps ultimately from Middle French caper "seize, to take," from Latin capere "to take" (see capable); or from Dutch kapen "to take," from Old Frisian capia "to buy," which is related to Old English ceapian (see cheap). Related: Copped; copping.


"policeman," 1859, abbreviation of earlier copper (n.2), 1846, from cop (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper