Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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COUPER, Cowper, Cooper, n.1 [′kʌupər, ′kupər]

1. A dealer, especially in horses and cattle. Known to Bnff.2, Abd. correspondents, Fif.10, Slg.3, Kcb.1 1940. Sc. 1844  W. H. Maxwell Sports and Adventures (1853) 121:
Its visitants [were] Dutch herring-coupers.
Cai. 1849  J. T. Calder St Mary's Fair 15:
Here knots of Caithness “coupers” may be seen.
Bnff. 1908  The Cabrach in Bnffsh. Jnl. (22 Sept.) 2:
In former times the parish was famous for its cattle kings, or coopers, as they designed themselves.
Fif. 1896  D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle and Gold Fringe 201:
Every cow-couper in Fife boasted of having done a good thing by him.
Lnk. 1710  Minutes J. P.s Lnk. (S.H.S. 1931) 93:
Wherever they shall find a couper of victuall to have on his hands or careing above a load or tuo bolls of victuall.
Ayr. 1823  Galt Sawney at Doncaster in Blackwood's Mag. (Oct.) 469:
My thoughts were aye running . . . anent the repute of the Yorkshire folk as horsecowpers.

Comb.: ‡couper-word, cooper-, the first word (1) “in demanding boot [see Buit, n.2 (2)] in a bargain; especially applied to horse-dealers” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2, couper-; 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.); (2) when proposing a scheme or settling a dispute. Gen. used with tak' = to get one's word in first. Watson W.-B. says obsol. (2) Rxb. 1919  Kelso Chron. (1 Aug.) 3/2:
Rather unwisely and prematurely, he had already ventilated the Queen Mary's House project in the Scotsman, thus taking the “cooper word.”
Rxb. 1923  Watson W.-B.:
A took the cooper-word o' 'im, an' ga'e 'im a bit o' ma mind.

2. A smuggler (Cai.7 1940).

[O.Sc. cowpar(e), coupar(e), cowper, couper, a buyer and seller; a trader or dealer, 1530; in later use, a buyer of herring from the fishing boats, 1574; a horse-dealer, 1597 (D.O.S.T.). From Coup, v.2]

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"Couper n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 11 Dec 2018 <>



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