See more synonyms for coupling on
  1. the act of a person or thing that couples.
  2. Machinery.
    1. a device for joining two rotating shafts semipermanently at their ends so as to transmit torque from one to the other.Compare clutch1(def 12a).
    2. a part with an inside thread for connecting two pipes of the same diameter.
    3. a fitting at the end of a length of hose into which the end of another such length can be screwed or fitted.
  3. Railroads. coupler(def 3).
  4. Electricity.
    1. the association of two circuits or systems in such a way that power may be transferred from one to the other.
    2. a device or expedient to ensure this.
  5. a short length of plumbing pipe having each end threaded on the inside.
  6. the part of the body between the tops of the shoulder blades and the tops of the hip joints in a dog, horse, etc.
  7. linkage(def 5).

Origin of coupling

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at couple, -ing1


[kuhp-uh l]
  1. two of the same sort considered together; pair.
  2. two persons considered as joined together, as a married or engaged pair, lovers, or dance partners: They make a handsome couple.
  3. any two persons considered together.
  4. Mechanics. a pair of equal, parallel forces acting in opposite directions and tending to produce rotation.
  5. Also called couple-close. Carpentry. a pair of rafters connected by a tie beam or collar beam.
  6. a leash for holding two hounds together.
  7. Fox Hunting. two hounds: 25 hounds or 12½ couple.
verb (used with object), cou·pled, cou·pling.
  1. to fasten, link, or associate together in a pair or pairs.
  2. to join; connect.
  3. to unite in marriage or in sexual union.
  4. Electricity.
    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), cou·pled, cou·pling.
  1. to join in a pair; unite.
  2. to copulate.
  1. 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 formscou·ple·a·ble, adjectivein·ter·cou·ple, adjectivewell-cou·pled, adjective
Can be confusedcouple 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for coupling

Contemporary Examples of coupling

Historical Examples of coupling

  • Sakes alive, the straight it's like the coupling of the cart-house.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • The coupling was apparently uninjured but the tender and engine were gone.

    The Mountain Divide

    Frank H. Spearman

  • Amaryllis flushed a little at the coupling of names, but faced it bravely.

  • This is the coupling of two things—a sensation and a cognition.

  • This coupling of Sonetchka and myself pleased me so much that I blushed again.


    Leo Tolstoy

British Dictionary definitions for coupling


  1. a mechanical device that connects two things
  2. a device for connecting railway cars or trucks together
  3. the part of the body of a horse, dog, or other quadruped that lies between the forequarters and the hindquarters
  4. electronics the act or process of linking two or more circuits so that power can be transferred between them usually by mutual induction, as in a transformer, or by means of a capacitor or inductor common to both circuitsSee also direct coupling
  5. physics an interaction between different properties of a system, such as a group of atoms or nuclei, or between two or more systems
  6. genetics the occurrence of two specified nonallelic genes from the same parent on the same chromosome


  1. two people who regularly associate with each other or live togetheran engaged couple
  2. (functioning as singular or plural) two people considered as a pair, for or as if for dancing, games, etc
  3. 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 packtwenty and a half couple
  4. 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
  5. physics
    1. two dissimilar metals, alloys, or semiconductors in electrical contact, across which a voltage developsSee thermocouple
    2. Also called: galvanic coupletwo dissimilar metals or alloys in electrical contact that when immersed in an electrolyte act as the electrodes of an electrolytic cell
  6. a connector or link between two members, such as a tie connecting a pair of rafters in a roof
  7. a couple of (functioning as singular or plural)
    1. a combination of two; a pair ofa couple of men
    2. informala small number of; a fewa couple of days
  1. (usually preceded by a; functioning as singular or plural) two; a pairgive him a couple
  1. (tr) to connect (two things) together or to connect (one thing) to (another)to couple railway carriages
  2. (tr) to do (two things) simultaneously or alternatelyhe couples studying with teaching
  3. to form or be formed into a pair or pairs
  4. to associate, put, or connect togetherhistory is coupled with sociology
  5. to link (two circuits) by electromagnetic induction
  6. (intr) to have sexual intercourse
  7. to join or be joined in marriage; marry
  8. (tr) to attach (two hounds to each other)

Word Origin for couple

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

Word Origin and History for coupling



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

coupling in Medicine


  1. The act of uniting sexually.
  2. bigeminal rhythm
  3. The configuration of two different mutant genes on the same chromosome, leading to the likelihood they will both either be inherited or omitted in the next generation.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.