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[kop-ing] /ˈkɒp ɪŋ/
the winding of yarn into a cap from a cone, bobbin, etc.
Also called quilling.
Origin of copping
First recorded in 1785-95; cop2 + -ing1


[kop] /kɒp/
verb (used with object), copped, copping. Informal.
to catch; nab.
to steal; filch.
to buy (narcotics).
Verb phrases
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.
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.
1695-1705; compare cap (obsolete) to arrest, Scots cap to seize ≪ dialectal Old French caper to take, ultimately < Latin capere Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for copping
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Well, what do you think the chances are of the Giants copping the flag again, old top?

    Baseball Joe, Home Run King Lester Chadwick
  • Mr. copping seems to like their situation the best of all the rooms I showed him.'

    The Dictator Justin McCarthy
  • But that's impossible Al but they's nothing to keep me from copping it off.

    The Real Dope Ring Lardner
  • Weve got the jump on the other fellows by copping the first game, said Robson.

    Baseball Joe on the Giants Lester Chadwick
  • copping answered all unconsciously in the words of Lady Macbeth.

    The Dictator Justin McCarthy
  • But they's nothing to prevent me from copping down the letter so as you can read what it says and here it is.

    The Real Dope Ring Lardner
  • That portion of a "self-actor mule" which guides the faller wires is termed the "shaper" or "copping motion."

    The Story of the Cotton Plant Frederick Wilkinson
  • Yes, Mr. copping had called several times, to make quite sure of everything concerning his friend's comfort.

    The Dictator Justin McCarthy
  • Mr. copping was apparently for the time a resident of London, and lived, he believed, somewhere in the Camden Town region.

    The Dictator Justin McCarthy
British Dictionary definitions for copping


another name for policeman
(Brit) an arrest (esp in the phrase a fair cop)
an instance of plagiarism
verb (transitive) cops, copping, copped
to seize or catch
to steal
to buy, steal, or otherwise obtain (illegal drugs) Compare score (sense 26)
Also cop it. to suffer (a punishment): you'll cop a clout if you do that!
(Austral, slang) cop it sweet
  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 copper²


a conical roll of thread wound on a spindle
(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 coppcup


(Brit, slang) (usually used with a negative) worth or value: that work is not much cop
Word Origin
C19: n use of cop1 (in the sense: to catch, hence something caught, something of value)


abbreviation (in New Zealand)
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
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Word Origin and History for copping



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
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Slang definitions & phrases for copping



  1. A police officer (1850s+)
  2. A theft
  3. An arrest


  1. To arrest (1850s+)
  2. To steal: He copped six PCs from the shop (1900+)
  3. To win; be awarded: to cop second place (1914+)
  4. To comprehend; grasp: I don't quite cop your sense, pal (1940s+)
  5. To buy or get narcotics: The pusher has appeared, and they will make their round-about way to him to ''cop'' (1960s+ Narcotics)

Related Terms

good cop bad cop

[origin uncertain; perhaps ultimately fr Latin capere ''seize,'' by way of French; police officer sense a shortening of copper; second sense ''seize, catch'' attested by 1704]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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