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[kuhp-uh l] /ˈkʌp əl/
two of the same sort considered together; pair.
two persons considered as joined together, as a married or engaged pair, lovers, or dance partners:
They make a handsome couple.
any two persons considered together.
Mechanics. a pair of equal, parallel forces acting in opposite directions and tending to produce rotation.
Also called couple-close. Carpentry. a pair of rafters connected by a tie beam or collar beam.
a leash for holding two hounds together.
Fox Hunting. two hounds:
25 hounds or 12½ couple.
verb (used with object), coupled, coupling.
to fasten, link, or associate together in a pair or pairs.
to join; connect.
to unite in marriage or in sexual union.
  1. to join or associate by means of a coupler.
  2. to bring (two electric circuits or circuit components) close enough to permit an exchange of electromagnetic energy.
verb (used without object), coupled, coupling.
to join in a pair; unite.
to copulate.
a couple of, more than two, but not many, of; a small number of; a few: It will take a couple of days for the package to get there.
A dinner party, whether for a couple of old friends or eight new acquaintances, takes nearly the same amount of effort.
Also, Informal, a couple.
Origin of couple
1175-1225; (noun) Middle English < Anglo-French c(o)uple, Old French cople, cuple < Latin cōpula a tie, bond (see copula); (v.) Middle English couplen < Anglo-French co(u)pler, Old French copler, cupler < Latin copulāre (see copulate)
Related forms
coupleable, adjective
intercouple, adjective
well-coupled, adjective
Can be confused
couple, pair, several (see synonym study at pair)
Usage note
The phrase a couple of, meaning “a small number of; a few; several,” has been in standard use for centuries, especially with measurements of time and distance and in referring to amounts of money: They walked a couple of miles in silence. Repairs will probably cost a couple of hundred dollars. The phrase is used in all but the most formal speech and writing. The shortened phrase a couple, without of (The gas station is a couple miles from here), is an Americanism of recent development that occurs chiefly in informal speech or representations of speech, especially when followed by number terms (as a couple dozen eggs) or units of measurement (as a couple years ago; a couple gallons of gas). This use of couple (as an adjective or modifier) is still disliked by many. Without a following noun, a couple is even more informal: Jack shouldn't drive. It's clear he's had a couple. (Here the noun drinks is omitted.)
In referring to two people, couple, like many collective nouns, may take either a singular or a plural verb. Most commonly, it is construed as a plural: The couple were traveling to Texas. See also collective noun. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for couple
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He also procured a couple of mules to transport his baggage.

  • So is Dacey, with perhaps a couple of others of the right sort.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • He took a couple of drinks to celebrate his approaching immunity from debt.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • Oh, well, what's good enough for the President I can put up with for a couple of days.

  • He has religion real bad for a couple of weeks, and then he backslides.

British Dictionary definitions for couple


two people who regularly associate with each other or live together: an engaged couple
(functioning as singular or pl) two people considered as a pair, for or as if for dancing, games, etc
(mainly hunting)
  1. a pair of collars joined by a leash, used to attach hounds to one another
  2. two hounds joined in this way
  3. the unit of reckoning for hounds in a pack: twenty and a half couple
a pair of equal and opposite parallel forces that have a tendency to produce rotation with a torque or turning moment equal to the product of either force and the perpendicular distance between them
  1. two dissimilar metals, alloys, or semiconductors in electrical contact, across which a voltage develops See thermocouple
  2. Also called galvanic couple. two dissimilar metals or alloys in electrical contact that when immersed in an electrolyte act as the electrodes of an electrolytic cell
a connector or link between two members, such as a tie connecting a pair of rafters in a roof
(functioning as singular or pl) a couple of
  1. a combination of two; a pair of: a couple of men
  2. (informal) a small number of; a few: a couple of days
(usually preceded by a; functioning as singular or pl) two; a pair: give him a couple
(transitive) to connect (two things) together or to connect (one thing) to (another): to couple railway carriages
(transitive) to do (two things) simultaneously or alternately: he couples studying with teaching
to form or be formed into a pair or pairs
to associate, put, or connect together: history is coupled with sociology
to link (two circuits) by electromagnetic induction
(intransitive) to have sexual intercourse
to join or be joined in marriage; marry
(transitive) to attach (two hounds to each other)
Word Origin
C13: from Old French: a pair, from Latin cōpula a bond; see copula
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 couple

late 13c., from Old French cople "married couple, lovers" (12c., Modern French couple), from Latin copula "tie, connection," from PIE *ko-ap-, from *ko(m)- "together" + *ap- "to take, reach." Meaning broadened mid-14c. to "any two things."


c.1200, from Old French copler, from cople (see couple (n.)). Related: Coupled; coupling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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