couple

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See also: couplé

English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English couple, from Old French couple, from Latin cōpula. Doublet of copula.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈkʌpəl/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌpəl

Noun[edit]

couple (plural couples)

A parrot couple.
  1. Two partners in a romantic or sexual relationship.
  2. Two of the same kind connected or considered together.
    • 1692, Roger L'Estrange, Fables, of Aesop and Other Eminent Mythologists: with Morals and Reflexions[3], page 64:
      'Tis in some sort with Friends (Pardon the Coarseness of the illustration) as it is with Dogs in Couples. They should be of the same Size; and Humour; and That which Pleases the One should Please the Other
    • 1839, Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby
      [] couple of tables; one of which bore some preparations for supper; while, on the other []
  3. (informal) A small number.
    • 1839, Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby
      A couple of billiard balls, all mud and dirt, two battered hats, a champagne bottle []
    • 1891, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Red-Headed League
      ‘Oh, merely a couple of hundred a year, but the work is slight, and it need not interfere very much with one’s other occupations.’
    • 1902, A. Henry Savage Landor, Across Coveted Lands:
      When we got on board again after a couple of hours on shore []
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      Thinks I to myself, “Sol, you're run off your course again. This is a rich man's summer ‘cottage’ […].” So I started to back away again into the bushes. But I hadn't backed more'n a couple of yards when I see something so amazing that I couldn't help scooching down behind the bayberries and looking at it.
    • 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, in The Unknown Ajax:
      And no use for anyone to tell Charles that this was because the Family was in mourning for Mr Granville Darracott […]: Charles might only have been second footman at Darracott Place for a couple of months when that disaster occurred, but no one could gammon him into thinking that my lord cared a spangle for his heir.
  4. One of the pairs of plates of two metals which compose a voltaic battery, called a voltaic couple or galvanic couple.
  5. (physics) Two forces that are equal in magnitude but opposite in direction (and acting along parallel lines), thus creating the turning effect of a torque or moment.
  6. (architecture) A couple-close.
  7. (obsolete) That which joins or links two things together; a bond or tie; a coupler.

Usage notes[edit]

  • A traditional and still broadly accepted usage of couple is as a noun followed by "of" to mean "two", as in "a couple of people". In this usage, "a couple of" is equivalent to "a pair of".
  • The very widespread use of the same expression (e.g. "a couple of people") to mean any small number is often considered informal but is in fact very old and often considered unobjectionable on all levels of style, sometimes even contradictorily by the same publication that labels this use as informal elsewhere on the same page, e.g. the American Heritage Dictionary.[1]
    The farm is a couple of miles off the main highway [= a few miles away].
    We’re going out to a restaurant with a couple of friends [= a few friends].
    Wait a couple of minutes [= a few minutes].
  • Couple or a couple is also used informally and formally as an adjective or determiner (see definition below) to mean "a few", in which case it is not followed by "of". Many usage manuals advise against this widespread use although the Merriam-Webster Dictionary points out that this use before a word indicating degree is standard in both UK and UK English (e.g. "a couple more examples" or "a couple less problems"). Only its use before an ordinary plural noun is an Americanism, which the dictionary explains is "common in speech and in writing that is not meant to be formal or elevated". This use is especially frequent with numbers, time, and other measurements, such as "a couple hundred", "a couple minutes", and "a couple dozen".[2]

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Adjective[edit]

couple (not comparable)

  1. (informal, US) Two or (a) small number of.
    • 2005, Deirdre Savoy, Body of Truth, page 179:
      Put any couple guys in a tricked out car and a couple of bandannas [] " He trailed off.
    • 2005, Elaine Bonzelaar, Those First Two Years, page 47:
      Since we were now living so close, at least those couple hours of talking together helped boost our spirits.
    • 2006, Eric Nolen-Weathington, ‎George A. Khoury, ‎Arthur Adams, Modern Masters: Arthur Adams, volume six, page 22:
      Apparently, Ann in particular liked these couple pages of the character thing.

Determiner[edit]

couple

  1. (colloquial, US) Two or a few, a small number of.
    • 1922, “Lewis J. Bennett et al vs. Sebastien L. Petrino”, in State of New York Supreme Court Appellate Division - Fourth Department:
      Q. (Mr. Feldman, atty) You say you lived upstairs? A. (Emma Moore) I lived upstairs. Q. Until when? A. About couple months we lived upstairs. Q. Up until couple months ago? A. No, couple months after we moved in there because the down stairs was not finished.
    • 2007, Jeffrey Lent, Lost Nation, page 182:
      Couple boys from way downcountry come for a summer in the woods. Isaac Cole talked to em.
    • 2011, Elizabeth Eulberg, Prom and Prejudice:
      [At a pizza parlor] "Couple slices would be great. []

Verb[edit]

couple (third-person singular simple present couples, present participle coupling, simple past and past participle coupled)

  1. (transitive) To join (two things) together, or (one thing) to (another).
    Now the conductor will couple the train cars.
    I've coupled our system to theirs.
  2. (transitive, dated) To join in wedlock; to marry.
    • 1801, Jonathan Swift, The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift, Volume 14[4], page 59:
      I am just going to perform a very good office, it is to assist with the archbishop, in degrading a parson who couples all our beggars
  3. (intransitive) To join in sexual intercourse; to copulate.
    • 1987 Alan Norman Bold & Robert Giddings, Who was really who in fiction, Longman
      On their wedding night they coupled nine times.
    • 2001 John Fisher & Geoff Garvey, The rough guide to Crete, p405
      She had the brilliant inventor and craftsman Daedalus construct her an artificial cow, in which she hid and induced the bull to couple with her [...]

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old French couple, from Vulgar Latin *cōpla, from Latin cōpula. Doublet of copule.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

couple m (plural couples)

  1. two partners in a romantic or sexual relationship
    Jean et Amélie forment un joli couple.Jean and Amélie make a cute couple.
  2. (physics) a force couple; a pure moment
  3. (mathematics) an ordered pair

Noun[edit]

couple f (plural couples)

  1. (animal husbandry) An accessory used to tightly attach two animals next to each other by the neck.
  2. (regional) a pair of something.
  3. (Canada) a couple of something, not to be mistaken as a few.
    • 1999, Chrystine Brouillet, Les Fiancées de l'Enfer, →ISBN, page 200:
      Je veux une pause pour une couple de jour.
      I need a pause for a couple days.

Related terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


Middle English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Borrowed from Old French couple, from Latin cōpula.

Alternative forms[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈkupəl/, /ˈkuplə/, /ˈkuːpəl/

Noun[edit]

couple (plural couples or couple)

  1. A couple; two people joined by a marital union or matrimony.
  2. A pair of animals of opposing genders (in a breeding context)
  3. A group of two things or animals, a pair (never three or more as in modern English)
  4. A lead or tie linked to two dogs and used to restrain them.
  5. A measurement for fruits, especially when dried.
  6. (architecture) One of two opposing roof beams (or the two as a pair)
  7. (rare) Sexual intercourse; the act of sex.
Derived terms[edit]
Descendants[edit]
  • English: couple
  • Scots: couple, kipple
References[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Old French coupler.

Verb[edit]

couple

  1. Alternative form of couplen

Old French[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Vulgar Latin *copla, from Latin cōpula.

Noun[edit]

couple f (oblique plural couples, nominative singular couple, nominative plural couples)

  1. couple (two things)
  2. sexual liaison

Usage notes[edit]

  • Occasionally used as a masculine noun (le couple)

Descendants[edit]