General English

  • noun a poor excuse or explanation for refusing to face up to something
  • phrasal verb
    (written as cop out)
    to stop doing an activity, e.g. because of feeling afraid or not wanting to do it


  • verb (to be guilty of) an evasion, avoidance of responsibility. This expression (almost always heard in the noun form) was American slang until the late 1970s, at which time it suddenly gained widespread currency, even among ‘respectable’ speakers in Britain. The phrase arose in the 1960s meaning specifically to ‘duck out’ of one’s obligations to one’s peers.