Definition of copy in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkɒpi/

noun (plural copies)

1A thing made to be similar or identical to another: the problem is telling which is the original document and which the copy
More example sentences
  • And how, if at all, did you indicate that this was a copy or an identical copy, how do you know that?
  • The first thing to note is that it is apparent that the copy is an identical copy inasmuch as there is the same blank on the original.
  • And to make the leap from life to death less abrupt, the inhabitants have constructed an identical copy of their city, underground.
duplicate, duplication, reprint, facsimile, photocopy, carbon copy, carbon, mimeograph, mimeo;
informal dupe
trademark Xerox, photostat
replica, reproduction, replication, print, imitation, likeness, lookalike, representation, mock-up, dummy;
counterfeit, forgery, fake, sham, bootleg
informal pirate, phoney, knock-off, dupe
2A single specimen of a particular book, record, or other publication or issue: the record has sold more than a million copies
More example sentences
  • The Enquirer sold a record 6.5 million copies of the issue containing that shot.
  • The book has sold more than 6.5 million copies since its publication last year, breaking sales records for a novel in its first 12 months, and is set to be made into a film.
  • Under section 9 of the Copyright Act of 1994, the copyright owner has the right to issue to the public copies of sound recordings and films.
edition, version, impression, imprint, issue;
specimen, sample, example
3 [mass noun] Matter to be printed: copy for the next issue must be submitted by the beginning of the month
More example sentences
  • Many editors are editing print copy for print-plus web sites (loosely called shovelware).
  • He does all that in ways that do not fit into the traditional pattern of a reporter filing copy to an editor, who then approves and publishes.
  • It's bad writing and it takes up a full page in the print copy.
3.1Material for a newspaper or magazine article: it is an unfortunate truth of today’s media that bad news makes good copy
More example sentences
  • He has been supplying newspaper men with good copy for generations.
  • We hear that a group of freelance journalists in the US are suing a leading national newspaper for posting their copy on its Web site without permission.
  • Mr Jones submits that it was right to look first at the criminal conduct of the investigatory journalists who spent money freely to provide copy for their newspaper.
articles, stories, features
3.2The text of an advertisement: ‘No more stubble—no more trouble,’ trumpeted their ad copy
More example sentences
  • Tailor the landing page text and use ad copy in the heading.
  • The way he tells it, the 23% of Australian children who are overweight or obese are passive victims of advertising copy.
  • After graduating, Grant dabbled briefly in advertising, writing copy for Brylcreem and Red Stripe beer, but plugged away at an acting career in regional theatre.

verb (copies, copying, copied)

[with object]
1Make a similar or identical version of; reproduce: each form had to be copied and sent to a different department
More example sentences
  • The tales were known long before the extant ballad versions began to be copied or printed in the mid-fifteenth century.
  • In particular, I really hated having to copy final versions out ‘in best’.
  • A third policeman - the one that had been sent to copy the tape - spoke up.
duplicate, photocopy, xerox, photostat, mimeograph, make a photocopy of, take a photocopy of, run off;
transcribe, reproduce, replicate, clone
reproduce, replicate;
forge, fake, falsify, counterfeit, bootleg
1.1 Computing Reproduce (data stored in one location) in another location: the command will copy a file from one disc to another
More example sentences
  • You'll have to accept the terms to continue at which point it will appear to be installing, but in actual fact the files are just being copied to the location you specified.
  • The final command copies the default configuration file to your home directory.
  • Once the ‘enhancement’ is accepted, an executable file named download.exe is copied to the system and executed automatically.
1.2Write out information that one has read or heard: he copied the details into his notebook I began to copy out the addresses
More example sentences
  • You'd copy out the relevant information and present it for the teacher.
  • They had asked me to climb on and read the information so they could copy it down.
  • Not what I wanted to hear after copying the names of about one crore hundred people.
1.3 (copy something to) Send a copy of a letter or an email to (a third party): I thought I’d copy to you this letter sent to the PR representative
More example sentences
  • If it is not doing so, then you should seek an urgent meeting with the head teacher, and, if he or she does not remedy the situation, write to the governing body, copying your letter to the chief education officer in your education authority.
  • She has also condemned the change and has written to county transport bosses - copying the letter to GNER - expressing her concern.
  • And I'm going to copy the letter to the local trading standards office and to the Consumers Association.
1.4 (copy someone in) Send someone a copy of an email that is addressed to a third party: I attached the document and copied him in so he’d know it had been sent
2Imitate the style or behaviour of: lifestyles that were copied from Miami and Fifth Avenue [no object]: art students copied from approved old masters
More example sentences
  • I like when people have original styles that aren't copied from anyone else.
  • Behaviors and ideas copied from person to person by imitation - memes - may have forced human genes to make us what we are today.
  • They were just behaviours, ideas and stories that were copied from one person to another in the long history of human attempts to understand the world.
imitate, mimic, ape, emulate, follow, echo, mirror, simulate, parrot, reproduce;
plagiarize, poach, steal, ‘borrow’, infringe the copyright of
informal pirate, rip off, crib, lift
British informal nick, pinch
archaic monkey
3 [no object] Hear or understand someone speaking on a radio transmitter: this is Edwards, do you copy, over
More example sentences
  • You copy, Minnie.


Middle English (denoting a transcript or copy of a document): from Old French copie (noun), copier (verb), from Latin copia 'abundance' (in medieval Latin 'transcript', from such phrases as copiam describendi facere 'give permission to transcribe').

  • copious from Late Middle English:

    Copious is from Latin copia ‘plenty’, also found in the symbol of fruitfulness the cornucopia (late 16th century) or ‘horn of plenty’, and in copy (Late Middle English). The radical change of meaning from the Latin came about because copia had a secondary meaning of ‘permission, licence, opportunity’. Latin phrases such as copiam describendi facere ‘permission to make a transcription’ led to copia being used in medieval Latin to mean a copy.

Words that rhyme with copy

choppy, floppy, jalopy, moppy, poppy, sloppy, soppy, stroppy

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: copy

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