Copper Bottomed – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Have you seen the phrase 'copper bottomed' on the internet or in a text and would like to know some more about why or how it gets used? 'Copper bottomed' is a common saying in English that can be used to mean that something is high-quality or trusted. This post unpacks its meaning, origin, and correct use.


The phrase 'copper bottomed' is a common figurative saying in the English language.

'Copper bottomed' is used as a descriptive phrase that is used to mean that something is reliable, trusted, or of superior quality.

Usually, the phrase 'copper bottomed' is a reference to inanimate objects and how lasting they are said to be, and the term is not generally used to refer to people.

While the phrase can be used anywhere, it is more common in older texts (around the late 1800s) than in modern use.

Modern use of the phrase 'copper bottomed' is more common in the United Kingdom and Australia, and somewhat less common of a saying to encounter in the United States.

When something is described as the opposite, or 'not copper bottomed', then its quality is inferior or the product is implied not to last.

The phrase can be spelled as 'copper-bottomed' and still be a valid expression.

Example Usage

“I suggest that you go for the more expensive, cast iron pans in the kitchen. They're really copper bottomed, and I mean this figuratively since we're talking about a pan that's made from cast iron.”

“If you want to buy something that's really copper-bottomed, make sure you go with one of the name brands rather than something else that you might never have heard of before.”

“The whole place looked really copper bottomed, from the glasses they had on the tables to the fancy hair some of the ladies were wearing on their heads.”

“I'm a bit of a car expert, and I think you've found something that's real copper bottomed in this junkyard.”


According to online language resouces (including, the phrase 'copper bottomed' first originated with the building of warships in the mid-1700s.

While ships were built with mostly wood at that point in time, stronger weaponry from rivals meant that ships had to adapt.

From the 1700s on, the hull of ships were covered with copper and would thus last longer.

This wasn't a technique just reserved for warships, but would eventually change seafaring and lead to longer-lasting hulls – and better, stronger transport.

The phrase would make its way around as a saying from the 1800s through to modern times, with the phrase rendering what's called a dead expression: the literal meaning is rarely recalled when speakers use the modern, figurative idiom.

The phrase was first listed on the website Urban Dictionary in 2009, although with a less common alternate meaning: the saying can also be used as slang for someone who sunbathes, referring to the color of their behind.

Phrases Similar to Copper Bottomed

  • Spiffy

Phrases Opposite to Copper Bottomed

  • N/a

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Copper bottomed
  • Copper-bottomed

Ways People May Say Copper Bottomed Incorrectly

There are several ways in which someone can use the phrase 'copper bottomed' in the wrong way, or misunderstand its meaning when it is used.

Older texts make the literal meaning of 'copper bottomed' more likely, where it would refer to the hull of a ship and not the figurative saying.

The phrase 'copper bottomed' can hold no figurative context for someone who has not seen it before, and might not understand its meaning.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Copper Bottomed

There are several ways in which someone can use the phrase 'copper bottomed' in a valid sentence.

Most commonly, the phrase 'copper bottomed' is used as an expression that describes things of high quality, or objects that are implied to last welll.

The term can be spelled either as 'copped bottomed', or as 'copper-bottomed'.

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