by 1942, noun ("a cowardly escape, an evasion") and verb ("sneak off, escape, give up without trying"), American English slang, perhaps from cop a plea (c. 1925) "plead guilty to lesser charges," which is probably from northern British slang cop "to catch" (a scolding, etc.); as in cop a feel "grope someone" (1930s); see cop (v.). Sense of "evade an issue or problem" is from 1960s.
also holdout, one who abstains or refrains when others do not, by 1911, from verbal expression hold out, which is attested from 1907 in the sense "keep back, detain, withhold" (see hold (v.) + out (adv.)). Earlier as the name of a card-sharper's device (1893). The verbal phrase is attested from 1520s as "stretch forth," 1580s as "resist pressure."
also blowout, 1825, American English colloquial, "outburst, brouhaha" (what in modern vernacular would be called a blow-up), from the verbal phrase, in reference to pressure in a steam engine, etc., from blow (v.1) + out (adv.). The meaning "abundant feast" is recorded from 1824; that of "a bursting of an automobile tire" is from 1908.
also burnout, "drug user," by 1972, slang, from the verbal phrase, which is attested from 1590s in the sense "burn until fuel is exhausted;" see burn (v.) + out (adv.). The immediate source is perhaps the use of the phrase in reference to electrical circuits, "fuse or cease to function from overload" (1931). Also compare burnt out "extinct after entire consumption of fuel" (1837). The meaning "mental exhaustion from continuous effort" is from 1975.
c. 1400, intransitive (as of the tongue, from the mouth); transitive use by 1560s; see hang (v.) + out (adv.). Colloquial meaning "to be found" is recorded from 1811, "in allusion to the custom of hanging out a sign or 'shingle' to indicate one's shop and business" [Century Dictionary]. As a noun (often hangout) "residence, lodging" attested from 1893; earlier "a feast" (1852, American English).