cop-out

[kop-out]
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noun Informal.
  1. an act or instance of copping out; reneging; evasion: The governor's platform was a cop-out.
  2. a person who cops out: Everyone helped as they had promised, except for one cop-out.

Origin of cop-out

First recorded in 1940–45; noun use of verb phrase cop out

cop

1
[kop]
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.
Idioms
  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 cop

1
1695–1705; compare cap (obsolete) to arrest, Scots cap to seize ≪ dialectal Old French caper to take, ultimately < Latin capere
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


British Dictionary definitions for cop out

cop out

verb
  1. (intr, adverb) to fail to assume responsibility or to commit oneself
noun cop-out
  1. an instance of avoiding responsibility or commitment
  2. a person who acts in this way

Word Origin for cop out

C20: probably from cop 1

cop

1
noun
  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 for cop

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

cop

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

Word Origin for cop

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

cop

3
noun
  1. British slang (usually used with a negative) worth or valuethat work is not much cop

Word Origin for cop

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

COP

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 out

by 1942, noun and verb, "sneak off, escape," American English slang, probably from cop a plea (c.1925) "plead guilty to lesser charges," probably from northern British slang cop "to catch" (a scolding, etc.); cf. cop a feel "grope someone" (1930s); see cop (v.). Sense of "evade an issue or problem" is from 1960s.

cop

v.

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.

cop

n.

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with cop out

cop out

Back out of a responsibility or commitment; also, take the easy way out. For example, Don't count on him; he's been known to fake illness and cop out, or She'll cop out and let her assistant do all the work. These meanings are derived from the underworld slang use of cop out for backing down or surrendering. [Late 1950s]

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