Come a cropper

Posted by R. Berg on February 21, 2002

In Reply to: Come a cropper posted by Jim on February 20, 2002

: I heard this phrase used by a Brit member of a crew filming wildlife in Africa. Contextually, the phrase implied serious injury or death resulting from a mistake. The archives list the phrase in a thread on euphemisms for bungling. Is "come a cropper" just a euphemism for bungling or do other meanings exist?

It originated as a term for a bad fall.

Oxford Engl. Dict.:
CROPPER. [perh. from phrase "neck and crop."] A heavy fall; usually in phr. "come (fall, get) a cropper"; often fig.
1858 . . . [He] rode at an impracticable fence, and got a cropper for his pains. 1877 . . . My horse put his foot in a hole and came down a cropper.

NECK AND CROP [listed under NECK]: bodily, completely, altogether.

See also: the meaning and origin of 'come a cropper'.