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


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English coper, from Old English coper, copor ‎(copper), from Late Latin cuprum ‎(copper), contraction of Latin (aes) Cyprium ‎(literally brass of Cyprus), 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.
    • Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
      My friends filled my pockets with coppers.
    • 1909, Archibald Marshall, The Squire's Daughter, chapterII:
      "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, archaic) 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.
Derived terms[edit]
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copper ‎(comparative more copper, superlative most copper)

  1. Made of copper.
  2. Having the reddish-brown colour/color of copper.
    • 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.
  • (made of copper):
  • (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 also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

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


copper ‎(plural coppers)

  1. (slang, law enforcement) A police officer.
Related terms[edit]