Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cop out v.2

[cop a plea v.]

1. (US Und., also cop out on) to confess, to inform.

L. Britton Hunger & Love 65: If anybody had thought to come along and ask you, you'd have copped out.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 129: I guess I’ll have to cop out.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 239: Though both Chilly and Caterpillar refused to cop out, they were routinely convicted through Raquel’s testimony.
[US]L. Bruce Essential Lenny Bruce 215: Oh, oh, somebody copped out on him.
[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2 18: Cop, v. To admit something.
[US]T. Thackrey Thief 404: Better cop-out to me before my partner gets back.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 36: The highest mark of a real partner was that the person didn’t [...] cop out, or drop a dime by informing.
[US]E. Bunker Little Boy Blue (1995) 165: He copped out that he started it [i.e. a fight].
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 132: He would plead not guilty but be ready to cop out if their case was airtight.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 603: She said you’re going back — I know it. He copped out. He said let me go.
[US]J. Ellroy Hilliker Curse 4: My father copped out to peeping [...] to indict my mother’s indigenous moral sloth.

2. (US Und.) to use legal plea-bargaining to plead guilty to a lesser charge in return for having one dropped.

[US]Flynn’s 23 Apr. n.p.: It was a bum beef but I copped out for a deuce because I was hot on a jug heist that called for a double sawbuck [DU].
[US]J. Blake letter 25 Feb. in Joint (1972) 13: I copped out on the larceny charges, figuring to get six months at the most.
[US]M. Braly Felony Tank (1962) 48: They probably thought you were going to cop out to every job pulled in this country in the last fifteen years.
[US]B. Jackson Killing Time 177: I think the charge was grand larceny. I copped out for one year anyway.
[US]N. Pileggi Wiseguy (2001) 26: Cop-out Louie copped me out to an ‘attempted’ petty larceny and I got a six-month suspended sentence.
[UK]P. Baker Blood Posse 258: Weatherman [...] started introducing me to the idea of copping out and getting a lenient sentence.

3. to avoid a problem or a difficult situation, to run away, to give up trying.

[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 266: You’re gonna cop out for this deal tonight.
[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 56: You think you’ll be rich off him? Cop out, man: he look like Santa Claus to you?
[US]‘Paul Merchant’ ‘Sex Gang’ in Pulling a Train’ (2012) [ebook] So you’re gonna cop out on me, huh [...] Like hell you are.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 28 June in Proud Highway (1997) 576: He copped out and said I should write the letter.
[US]C. McFadden Serial 45: The least he could do after copping out on Marlene [...] was to get in touch with her again.
[UK]Observer Mag. 24 Feb. 33: I wouldn’t like to have them say: ‘You copped out’, he confesses.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 94: Yer not gunna cop out now. Come on — we’re late.
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 333: I thought they were copping out because they were scared to compete.

4. (US black/jazz) to go to sleep.

[US]Esquire Nov. 70I: cop out: go to sleep. Evasiveness. Excuse.

5. (also cop out on) to let down, to betray.

[US]L. Bruce How to Talk Dirty 57: This is not copping out on the ‘starving masses of India and China’.
[US]G. Scott-Heron Vulture (1996) 27: All it [i.e. good manners] really turns out to be iz coppin’ out on yo’ manhood.

In phrases

cop (out) to (v.)

(US) to admit, to confess, to take responsibility for.

D. Maurer Argot of Confidence Men n.p.: When Camera-Eye McCarthy levels his gagers on you, you might as well cop out.
[US] ‘Good-Doing Wheeler’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 74: At his trial he lied a while, / But even he could see the end. / So he copped out to Subdivision Two, / And the judge said five to ten.
[US]M. Braly Felony Tank (1962) 31: You wouldn’t cop to something you didn’t do, would you?
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972) 57: cop out to [...] Admit something.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 161: You know I ain’t copping to anything . . . not even spitting on the sidewalk.
[US]C. Hiaasen Stormy Weather 189: Prosecutors had let him cop to a manslaughter-one.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 64: Prison policy is that any contraband or weapons found in a cell are considered to belong to both occupants. Unless or until one cellie or the other cops to ownership.