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cou·pon (kpŏn, ky-)
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n.
1. A code or detachable part of a ticket, card, or advertisement that entitles the holder to a certain benefit, such as a cash refund or a gift.
2.
a. A periodic interest payment due to the holder of a bond.
b. The interest rate of a bond that pays a coupon.
c. One of a set of small certificates that may be detached from a bond certificate and redeemed for interest payments.

[French, piece cut off, remnant, coupon (for interest), from Old French colpon, piece cut off, from colper, to cut, from colp, blow; see COUP.]

Word History: A Roman might have had difficulty predicting what would become of the Latin word colaphus, which meant "a blow with the fist." As the variety of Latin spoken in the Roman province of Gaul developed into Old French, the Late Latin word colpus, derived from colaphus, became colp. Old French colp subsequently developed into modern French coup, with the same sense. Coup has had a rich development in French, gaining numerous senses and forming part of numerous phrases, such as coup d'état. Old French colp also gave rise to the verb colper (or in its modern French spelling, couper), "to divide with a blow or stroke, cut." Colper yielded the word colpon, "a portion that is cut off." Old French colpon eventually developed into modern French coupon and came to refer to a certificate that was detachable from a principal certificate. The detachable certificate could be exchanged for interest or dividend payments by the holder of the principal certificate. Coupon is first recorded in English in 1822 with this sense and then came to apply to forms or tickets, detachable or otherwise, that could be exchanged for various benefits or used to request information.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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