Definition of cooper in English:



  • A maker or repairer of casks and barrels.

    • ‘He can trace his ancestors in this area back to 1650, a long line of shepherds, coopers, weavers and the occasional collier.’
    • ‘Almost 14 percent of those sought were reported as having pre-industrial skills; the males were blacksmiths or masons or coopers.’
    • ‘As this was the same rate paid to the coopers for their work, it would seem that this type of work was relatively skilled.’
    • ‘For example, Joe, twenty-one, and Jack, nineteen, were both coopers and both sons of Cooper Joe, sixty-three.’
    • ‘Old time coopers made each cask to its intended shape and capacity almost entirely by eye and experience.’
    • ‘John Drummond trained as a cooper in Greenock, making barrels to contain sugar, whisky and grain that were transported across the empire.’
    • ‘It had two butchers, two coopers, two weavers, a shoemaker, blacksmith, a cornmill, a pound, a lime kiln and, of course, a pub.’
    • ‘I left school at 16 and served a four-year apprenticeship as a cooper with Clyde Cooperage.’
    • ‘At the stables he unveiled a plaque to commemorate his visit and was presented with a statuette of the cooper at work.’
    • ‘We think the cooper, not the kind of oak, gives the greatest influence.’
    • ‘The top superstar coopers are so in demand that they can charge as much as £500 for a single new French barrel.’
    • ‘Dance themes deal with relations between men and women as well as particular occupations such as the dances of reapers, cobblers, coopers, and smiths.’
    • ‘The diameters are almost identical; coopers made tight casks with remarkably similar proportions, for similar capacities, regardless of the names of the casks.’
    • ‘In addition, Jeremiah's only surviving son Aaron, who later became a cooper, probably contributed to his family's productive capacity while learning the trade at his father's side.’
    • ‘Some wells were putting out more than 3,000 barrels of oil per day, and coopers were producing large numbers of brand-new containers just for oil.’
    • ‘It was built by a Mr Robinson, who carried on the trade of a cooper, and he also used the front cellar under the theatre as a workshop.’
    • ‘I could almost hear the coopers banging, smell the blubber cauldrons boiling.’
    • ‘The company is one of the few brewers in the country that still employs a cooper crafting wooden casks in which the beers mature.’
    • ‘Particularly striking was the breakdown of the craft system: only two boys (a cooper and a tailor) claimed they were apprentices.’
    • ‘Mount Joy was a great industrial town, having blacksmiths, wagon builders, coopers, weavers, millers, molders, and toolmakers.’


[with object]
  • Make or repair (a cask or barrel)

    ‘my father coopered casks and barrels for the ships’
    no object ‘he worked most of his life coopering for a brewery’
    • ‘Watch and clock makers, coopering, the dairy trade, wagon and carriage making, the building trade are all celebrated, with a range of displays and pictures, and there is a special display on the part played by Westinghouse.’
    • ‘Given that coopering is still very much a manual industry and dependable on skilled tradesmen, our main aim is to ensure that distilleries have a readily available supply of quality casks for their filling programme.’
    • ‘First comes the sherry casks, then there's the traditional bourbon casks from America, and finally it is moved to new oak casks, coopered from American timber.’
    • ‘The advent of metal casks has all but finished the craft of coopering, except at Theakston's brewery in Masham.’
    • ‘It was also used for industrial purposes, including coopering, tanning, glassmaking and iron smelting.’
    • ‘Groups of tools representing industries like coopering were arranged as if awaiting the master craftsman's return from lunch.’
    • ‘His films include clay-pipe making, charcoal burning, clog-making, brush-making, coopering and tanning.’
    • ‘The Friday workshops covered wooden moldings and white coopering.’
    • ‘Richard worked just about every job in that business, from harvesting logs to make the barrel staves through to coopering and trucking the water-tight barrels to fishery clients in Atlantic Canada.’
    • ‘Demonstrations included quilting, decorative paper cutting, decorative stenciling, tinsmithing, woodworking, band box making, and coopering.’


Middle English cowper, from Middle Dutch, Middle Low German kūper, from kūpe ‘tub, vat’, based on Latin cupa. Compare with coop.