Cop on - cop yourself on

Pedro y La Torre

Senior Member
English (Dublin, Ireland)
Hello,

In Ireland, "cop on" is an expression often used meaning wise up and get some common sense.

It's most often heard if someone is behaving irrationally and/or immaturely.

"Would you ever cop yourself on and stop behaving like a child" is a frequent example. Here's another from a prominent Irish newspaper.

However, I don't think anyone outside of Ireland would understand the term. Therefore I'm looking for an American English equivalent. I suppose wise up is one possibility but I don't think it has the all-encompassing reach (or forcefulness) of cop on. Any ideas?
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Grow up" is fairly common. "Get a clue" is another common phrase. "Wake up" is often what parents will say to children who, in their opinion, are acting foolishly or appear to be aimless. "Pull your head out of your ass" is a rude but forceful way of saying it.

    Just as a note, I've heard "he copped on to something" in American English with that same meaning of "wising up" or "became aware of", but not "copped himself on" or "cop yourself on." That's an interesting difference.
     
    Last edited:

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Dublin, Ireland)
    "Grow up" is fairly common. "Get a clue" is another common phrase. "Wake up" is often what parents will say to children who, in their opinion, are acting foolishly or appear to be aimless. "Pull your head out of your ass" is a rude but forceful way of saying it.

    All good examples, thanks.

    Just as a note, I've heard "he copped on to something" in American English with that same meaning of "wising up" or "became aware of", but not "copped himself on" or "cop yourself on." That's an interesting difference.

    Same holds true for Irish English. To cop on to something is a common way of saying he realized or became aware of something - to cop (oneself) on is an unrelated expression however.
     

    Ella_Ella

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Hi everyone!

    I've come across this phrase in a book by an Irish author (Night Boat to Tangier, by Kevin Barry), but the meaning above, also mentioned by dictionaries, doesn't seem to work in this case:

    This is a dialogue between two characters, as one of them is eating octopus for the first time:

    What’s this bollocks, Moss?
    Octopus, Charlie.
    You windin’ me up?
    Can you not see it? Look? It’s got all the little tentacles and shit?
    And we’re supposed to be atein’ that? This crowd would want to cop themselves on altogether.


    By 'this crowd' I understand all the little tentacles, but the correct meaning in this context escapes me. Something like the content of his plate is all a mess maybe.

    Can you please enlighten me?
    Thanks.
     

    cidertree

    Senior Member
    Béarla na hÉireann (Hiberno-English)
    This crowd would refer to "these people", whoever they may be. The idea is that if "they" expect us to eat octopus, they had better think again.
     
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