Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Cooper - A Barrel Role

Double barrelled
(photo by Fabio Sola Penna)

COOPER

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.

2 comments:

  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.

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    Replies
    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!

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