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Copper in its natural state.
Chemical element
Cu Previous: nickel (Ni)
Next: zinc (Zn)


Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English coper, from Old English coper, copor (copper), from Late Latin cuprum (copper), contraction of Latin aes Cyprium (literally Cyprian brass), from Ancient Greek Κύπρος (Kúpros, Cyprus). Cognate with Dutch koper (copper), German Kupfer (copper), Icelandic kopar (copper).


copper (countable and uncountable, plural coppers)

  1. (uncountable) A reddish-brown, malleable, ductile metallic element with high electrical and thermal conductivity, symbol Cu, and atomic number 29.
  2. (countable) Something made of copper.
  3. The reddish-brown colour/color of copper.
    copper colour:  
  4. (countable) A copper coin.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Benjamin Franklin
      My friends filled my pockets with coppers.
    • 1909, Archibald Marshall [pseudonym; Arthur Hammond Marshall], chapter II, in The Squire’s Daughter, London: Methuen, OCLC 12026604; republished New York, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1919, OCLC 491297620:
      "I don't want to spoil any comparison you are going to make," said Jim, "but I was at Winchester and New College." ¶ "That will do," said Mackenzie. "I was dragged up at the workhouse school till I was twelve. Then I ran away and sold papers in the streets, and anything else that I could pick up a few coppers by—except steal. []."
  5. (Britain, Australia, dated) A large pot, often used for heating water or washing clothes over a fire. In Australasia at least, it could also be a fixed installation made of copper, with a fire underneath and its own chimney. Generally made redundant by the advent of the washing machine.
    Mum would heat the water in a copper in the kitchen and transfer it to the tin bath.
    I explain that socks can’t be boiled up in the copper with the sheets and towels or they shrink.
    • 1797, Dyeing, article in Colin Macfarquhar, George Gleig (editors), Encyclopædia Britannica: or, A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature, Volume 6, Part 1 p.207:
      When the water in the copper boils, the arsenic and tartar, well pounded, is put into it, and kept boiling till the liquor is reduced to about half.
  6. (entomology) Any of various lycaenid butterflies with copper-coloured upperwings, especially those of the genera Lycaena and Paralucia.
Derived termsEdit
Related termsEdit


copper (comparative more copper, superlative most copper)

  1. Made of copper.
  2. Having the reddish-brown colour/color of copper.
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
      All in a hot and copper sky,
      The bloody Sun, at noon,
      Right up above the mast did stand,
      No bigger than the Moon.
    • 1999, Maria M. Gillan, Things My Mother Told Me (page 38)
      She seemed so alive, with her shining eyes and her copper hair and her jokes and funny stories, but there was always a mystery at the center of her life, the sound of wild sobbing my mother said she heard coming through the floor.
  • (made of copper): coppern (archaic)
  • (having the colour/color of copper): coppery


copper (third-person singular simple present coppers, present participle coppering, simple past and past participle coppered)

  1. To sheathe or coat with copper.

See alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From cop (to take, capture, seize) +‎ -er (agent suffix).


copper (plural coppers)

  1. (slang, law enforcement) A police officer.
Related termsEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Copper” in David Barthelmy, Webmineral Mineralogy Database[1], 1997–.
  • copper”, in[2], Hudson Institute of Mineralogy, accessed 29 August 2016.

Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of coper