1. a chemical element that is a red-brown metal. Its symbol is Cu and it is used especially for making wire or pipes.
2. a police officer
3. a coin of low value made of copper or bronze
Origin and usage
The word copper comes from the Latin ‘Cyprium aes’, meaning ‘Cyprus metal’, since the island of Cyprus was where copper was mined. Eventually, the word became ‘cuprum’, and this is where the chemical symbol for copper (Cu) comes from. Different uses of the word copper originated in English at different times, the earliest dating back to the 1520s and the latest from 1846.
Copper commonly refers to a metal found in nature, usually in water, air, rocks and soil. It is one of the necessary elements to support life, which means that animals, plants and people all need copper to live. Living things get the copper they need through food and water and by breathing in tiny particles from the air.
Copper is also used to make metal products like cooking pots, pipes and wire. Sometimes, copper is combined with other metals to make brass and bronze. Products enhanced with copper are often used in farming to treat plant diseases, in water treatment, and as a protective coating for wood, leather and fabrics.
“Some minds improve by travel, others, rather, resemble copper wire, or brass, which gets the narrower by going farther.”
“The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time.”
(Henry David Thoreau)