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verb (used without object), coped, cop·ing.
  1. to struggle or deal, especially on fairly even terms or with some degree of success (usually followed by with): I will try to cope with his rudeness.
  2. to face and deal with responsibilities, problems, or difficulties, especially successfully or in a calm or adequate manner: After his breakdown he couldn't cope any longer.
  3. Archaic. to come into contact; meet (usually followed by with).
verb (used with object), coped, cop·ing.
  1. British Informal. to cope with.
  2. Obsolete. to come into contact with; encounter.

Origin of cope1

1300–50; Middle English coupen < Anglo-French, Old French couper to strike, derivative of coup coup1
Related formscope·less, adjectivecope·less·ness, noun


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1. wrestle, strive, persevere.


  1. a long mantle, especially of silk, worn by ecclesiastics over the alb or surplice in processions and on other occasions.
  2. any cloaklike or canopylike covering.
  3. the sky.
  4. a coping.
  5. Metallurgy. the upper half of a flask.Compare drag(def 32).
verb (used with object), coped, cop·ing.
  1. to furnish with or as if with a cope or coping.

Origin of cope2

1175–1225; Middle English < Medieval Latin cāpa, variant of cappa cap1


verb (used with object), coped, cop·ing.
  1. Building Trades.
    1. to join (two molded wooden members) by undercutting the end of one of them to the profile of the other so that the joint produced resembles a miter joint (usually followed by in or together).
    2. to form (a joint between such members) in this way.
    3. to undercut the end of (a molded wooden member) in order to form a coped joint.
    4. to cut away (a flange of a metal member) so that it may be joined to another member at an angle.
  2. Falconry. to clip or dull (the beak or talons of a hawk).

Origin of cope3

1565–75; < French couper to cut; see cope1


verb (used with object), coped, cop·ing. British.
  1. to barter; trade; exchange.

Origin of cope4

1400–50; late Middle English copen < Low German; compare Middle Dutch côpen to buy
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for cope


  1. (intr foll by with) to contend (against)
  2. (intr) to deal successfully with or handle a situation; manageshe coped well with the problem
  3. (tr) archaic
    1. to deal with
    2. to meet in battle

Word Origin

C14: from Old French coper to strike, cut, from coup blow; see coup 1


  1. a large ceremonial cloak worn at solemn liturgical functions by priests of certain Christian sects
  2. any covering shaped like a cope
  1. (tr) to dress (someone) in a cope

Word Origin

Old English cāp, from Medieval Latin cāpa, from Late Latin cappa hooded cloak; see cap


verb (tr)
  1. to provide (a wall) with a coping
  2. to join (two moulded timber members)
  1. another name for coping

Word Origin

C17: probably from French couper to cut; see cope 1


n acronym for (in South Africa)
  1. Congress of the People: a political party founded in 2008 by dissident members of the ANC
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 cope


late 14c., "come to blows with," from Old French couper, earlier colper "hit, punch," from colp "a blow" (see coup). Meaning evolved 17c. into "handle successfully," perhaps influenced by obsolete cope "to traffic" (15c.-17c.), a word in North Sea trade, from the Flemish version of the Germanic source of English cheap. Related: Coped; coping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cope in Medicine


  1. To contend with difficulties with the intent to overcome them.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.