Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A verb, such as a form of be or seem, that identifies the predicate of a sentence with the subject. Also called linking verb.
  • n. Logic The word or set of words that serves as a link between the subject and predicate of a proposition.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A word used to link the subject of a sentence with a predicate (usually a subject complement or an adverbial); it serves to unite (or associate) the subject with the predicate. (e.g. be).
  • n. A function that represents the association between two or more variables, independent of the individual marginal distributions of the variables.
  • n. A device that connects two or more keyboards of an organ

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The word which unites the subject and predicate.
  • n. The stop which connects the manuals, or the manuals with the pedals; -- called also coupler.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In grammar and logic, that word or part of a proposition which expresses the relation between the subject and the predicate.
  • n. In an organ, same as coupler.
  • n. In anatomy, some coupling or connecting part, usually distinguished by a qualifying term; especially, a median bone or cartilage connecting hyoidean and branchial arches, and also uniting opposite halves of these arches respectively, as a basibranchial.
  • n. In law, sexual intercourse.
  • n. In botany, same as zygospore.
  • n. In zoology, the cell resulting from the union of a microgamete and a macrogamete among the Sporozoa.
  • n. In chem., one compound substance united with and modifying the character of another. See copulated compound.
  • n. A commissure; the corpus callosum.
  • n. In music, a brief connecting passage, especially between the subject and answer of a fugue. Also called codetta or conduit.
  • n. Same as amboceptor.
  • n. In ichthyology, same as actinost.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an equating verb (such as `be' or `become') that links the subject with the complement of a sentence

Etymologies

Latin cōpula, link.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Borrowed from Latin copula ("bond, tie"). See there for details. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Copula This couples (hence the Latinate term copula) the individual probabilities associated with A and B to come up with a single number.

    Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street

  • It is often an awkward task so to analyse propositions relative to past or future time as to bring out the copula under the form 'is' or 'is not': but fortunately there is no necessity for so doing, since, as has been said before (§ 188), the material form of the copula is a matter of indifference to logic.

    Deductive Logic

  • The Verb, as such, is not recognised by logic, but is resolved into predicate and copula, that is to say, into a noun which is affirmed or denied of another, plus the sign of that affirmation or denial.

    Deductive Logic

  • The want of a copula is another instance of the primitive character of the tongue.

    The Soul of the Far East

  • The copula is the sign denoting that there is an affirmation or denial; and thereby enabling the hearer or reader to distinguish a proposition from any other kind of discourse.

    A System Of Logic, Ratiocinative And Inductive (Vol. 1 of 2)

  • Therefore the circumstance of time is properly considered as attaching to the copula, which is the sign of predication, and not to the predicate.

    A System Of Logic, Ratiocinative And Inductive (Vol. 1 of 2)

  • The copula is the sign denoting that there is an affirmation or denial, and thereby enabling the hearer or reader to distinguish a proposition from any other kind of discourse.

    A System Of Logic, Ratiocinative And Inductive

  • _ -- In this system the formal relation is taken, that is, the copula may be any whatever.

    A Budget of Paradoxes, Volume I (of II)

  • He decided to use a very standard type of curve - the Gaussian copula, which is better known as a bell curve, or normal distribution - to map and determine the correlation on any given portfolio of assets.

    A New Start

  • Feel confuses people because it can serve either as a garden-variety transitive or intransitive verb or as a slightly more rarefied "copula," or linking verb.

    Word Court

Comments

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  • "Capitalism and religion, W. says. Or, in my case, failed capitalism and failed religion. Somehow, I'm the key to his project, W. says. Somehow I'm the key to the copula, though he's not sure how."
    Dogma by Lars Iyer, p 12

    June 8, 2012

  • I love the first example sentence:

    "W hen I read the piece on Judge Roy Moore, I was treated to an amazing piece of trivia: the curious "fact" that the granite monument, while on the road, was subject to "what truckers call 'fuck bugs' (Plecia nearctica to entomologists), which swarm in copula for hours at a time, especially near the Gulf, and as a consequence — truckers and entomologists agree — make twice the splat of anything else you're likely to encounter.""

    --Letters to the editor of The Atlantic

    January 5, 2011