Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Cooper - A Barrel Role

Double barrelled
(photo by Fabio Sola Penna)


Noun & verb. Middle English.
[Middle Dutch, Middle Low German kuper, formed as COOP noun.]

A1(a) noun. A skilled worker who makes and repairs wooden vessels
formed of staves and hoops, as casks, tubs, etc, etc. ME

A1(b) noun. A crew member on a ship who repairs casks, etc. E17

A2 noun. A person engaged in the trade of sampling, bottling, or retailing wine. E16

A3 noun. A bottle-basket used in wine cellars. E19

A4 noun. A drink composed of a mixture of stout and porter,
originally drunk by the coopers in breweries. L19

B1 verb trans. Make or repair the staves or hoops of (casks etc.);
equip or secure with hoops. E18

B2 verb trans. Put or stow in casks. M18

B3 verb trans. Followed by up: get into a presentable form. colloquial. E19

B4 verb trans. Ruin, spoil. slang. M19

If you thought, as I did, that a cooper is just a maker of barrels, then the OED has news for you: a cooper can be so much more than that. Not only does he make a variety of wooden vessels 'formed of staves and hoops', but a cooper might be in charge of maintaining casks on a ship, or have the deliciously enviable job of sampling and bottling wine. And coupled with cooper is the rather wonderful noun cooperage, which can variously refer to a cooper's work, products, skills, workshop or fees.

Oh, and finally, just to show that cooperage is a barrel of laughs:

What do you call a bossy cooper?
A hard caskmaster!

Eh? No? Didn't like that one? Okay ... 

Barrels, barrels, everywhere, and quite a lot to drink
(photo by Magalie L'Abbe)
Are you a cooper?

Do you have any more barrel jokes?

Do please leave your most tubcentric comments in the box below.


  1. Outside of the not uncommon English occupational surname, I don't think I've knowingly meet an actual 'cooper'? But here's a (tenuous) 'cooper' fact. In 1970 the Brazilian football that went onto win the World Cup was trained by an American doctor specialising in preventive medicine and as a result today "jogging" is translated as “coopering” in Brazilian Portuguese (fazer cooper), the doctor was Dr Kenneth Cooper.

    1. Wow! That comment has barrels of trivia, tubs of World Cup relevance and casks of cooperage. It's just quite possibly the best comment ever!

  2. Please could you let me know where I can obtain the vinyl for this? would love to make some for Christmas.Organic wine