mid-14c., "written account or record," from Old French copie (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin copia "reproduction, transcript," from Latin copia "an abundance, ample supply, profusion, plenty," from assimilated form of com "with" (see com-) + ops (genitive opis) "power, wealth, resources," from PIE root *op- "to work, produce in abundance."
Sense extended 15c. to any specimen of writing, especially MS given to a printer to be reproduced in type (Caxton, late 15c.). Meaning "a duplication, imitation, or reproduction" written or otherwise is from late 14c. Meaning "one of a set of reproductions containing the same matter" is from 1530s.
Copy-boy, one who takes copy from the writer to the printer, is from 1888. The newspaper copy-desk, where copy is edited for printing, is from 1887; copy-editor is attested from 1889.
The "copy desk" is the managing editor's literary inspection field, his last check by which the work of all editorial departments is gauged, the final balance where the brain product of the entire working force of the paper is weighed and judged. [The Journalist, May 21, 1892]
late 14c., "make a copy of, duplicate" (a text or document), from Old French copier (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin copiare "to transcribe," originally "to write in plenty," from Latin copia "plenty" (see copy (n.)). Hence, "to write an original text many times."
Figurative sense of "to imitate, to follow as an example" is attested from 1640s. Of computer data, by 1953. Meaning "send a copy (of a letter, later e-mail, etc.) to a third party" is attested by 1983. Related: Copied; copying.
1590s, "one who writes or transcribes from an original or form," agent noun from copy (v.). By 1889 as "device for making copies of documents."