come a cropper

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Possibly from the phrase neck and crop, in which crop may refer to the backside of a horse.


  • (file)


come a cropper (third-person singular simple present comes a cropper, present participle coming a cropper, simple past came a cropper, past participle come a cropper)

  1. (originally) To fall headlong from a horse.
  2. (British, idiomatic) To suffer some accident or misfortune; to fail.
    She came a cropper on the stairs and broke her leg.
    • 1879, Anthony Trollope, chapter 67, in The Duke's Children:
      I should feel certain that I should come a cropper, but still I'd try it. As you say, a fellow should try.
    • 1922, Katherine Mansfield [pseudonym; Kathleen Mansfield Murry], “At the Bay”, in The Garden Party, London: Constable & Company, page 7:
      You couldn't help feeling he'd be caught out one day, and then what an almighty cropper he'd come!
    • 1951 March, “Chess Caviar”, in Chess Review:
      We are accustomed to seeing Morphy conquer brilliantly against great odds; but this time he comes a cropper.
    • 1953, Mervyn Peake, Mr Pye, William Heinemann:
      You tried to convey too much and you conveyed nothing. You came a cropper, major.
    • 2003 November 6, Lynne Truss, “Introduction – The Seventh Sense”, in Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, London: Profile Books Ltd, →ISBN, page 15:
      We had been taught Latin, French and German grammar; but English grammar was something we felt we were expected to infer from our reading – which is doubtless why I came a cropper over “its” and “it’s”.
    • 2022 May 14, “Tech bubbles are bursting all over the place”, in The Economist[1], →ISSN:
      Although they were meant to reach the Moon no matter what, cryptocurrencies are also coming a cropper.


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