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1704, northern British dialect, "to seize, to catch," perhaps ultimately from Middle French caper "seize, to take," from Latin capere "to take" (see capable); or from Dutch kapen "to take," from Old Frisian capia "to buy," which is related to Old English ceapian (see cheap). Related: Copped; copping.
To plead guilty to a lesser charge than one might otherwise be tried for; escape a worse punishment by accepting a lesser one (1920s+ Police & underworld)
[origin uncertain; perhaps ultimately fr Latin capere ''seize,'' by way of French; police officer sense a shortening of copper; second sense ''seize, catch'' attested by 1704]