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cop a plea

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1

Plead guilty or confess to a crime in exchange for a lighter sentence; also, plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for not being tried for a more serious charge. For example, Arnold decided he was better off copping a plea than facing a jury. [Colloquial; 1920s]

2

Plead for mercy; make excuses. For example, He copped a plea about not knowing his way around. [Slang; c. 1940]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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