In the language used by footy (Australian football) commentators the word "copped" is frequent. For instance, if a player gets knocked on the head, say, then the sentence might be "player X copped one". I never heard this expression in Britain or the USA. Is it a specifically Australian word? And where does it come from?

  • What research have you attempted prior to asking here? What results have you gathered that were unconclusive?
    – SrJoven
    Oct 22, 2014 at 11:39

2 Answers 2


It's used quite a lot in British English. The verb "cop":

1.1 Incur (something unwelcome):
 ‘England’s captain copped most of the blame’

In your context, you could say "Player A copped a knock on the head".

Interestingly, you can also receive something welcome by "copping" it:

I copped myself a bottle of champagne in the raffle

Regarding etymology:

early 18th century (as a verb): perhaps from obsolete cap 'arrest', from Old French caper 'seize', from Latin capere

  • In the US one would "cop a plea" when confessing to a crime. I suppose it originally meant accepting a plea bargain and so matched the above sense, but that sense has been largely lost, I suspect.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 22, 2014 at 12:14
  • Cop a feel is also strange expression
    – mplungjan
    Oct 22, 2014 at 12:20
  • It basically just means take. It's that simple.
    – Fattie
    Oct 22, 2014 at 16:53
  • This is also why police are called cops or coppers.
    – phoog
    Sep 26, 2015 at 6:23

Back in colonial times before the late 1800s andFederation , when Australia wasGoverned and policed by the corrupt New South Wales Corps (a.k.a. The Rum Corps) Rum Corps was comprised of .....Due to the remoteness and unpopularity of the posting, the New South Wales Corps were composed of officers on half pay, troublemakers, soldiers paroled from military prisons, and those with few prospects who were gambling on making a life for themselves in the new colony. The colony, like many British territories at the time, was short of coins, and rum soon became the medium of trade. The officers of the Corps were able to use their position and wealth to buy all the imported rum and then exchange it for goods and labour at very favourable rates, thus earning the Corps the nickname "The Rum Corps". By 1793 stills were being imported and grain was being used to make rum, exacerbating the shortage of grain. These extremely corrupt militia / early police were renowned for dishing out there form of punishment to convicts & settlers alike eventually leading to terms like -... I copped a beating from the bastard rum corps ( other Nickname(s)for the Rum Corps were ; Botany Bay Rangers, Rum Puncheon Corps, The Condemned ). Or - ... I copped one in the goolies , thanks to thepuncheon corps` .

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