cop a plea

Idioms & Phrases

cop a plea

  1. Plead guilty or confess to a crime in exchange for a lighter sentence; also, plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for not being tried for a more serious charge. For example, Arnold decided he was better off copping a plea than facing a jury. [Colloquial; 1920s]

  2. Plead for mercy; make excuses. For example, He copped a plea about not knowing his way around. [Slang; c. 1940]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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