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.
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).
a "bright side" which proverbially accompanies even the darkest trouble; by 1843, apparently from oft-quoted lines from Milton's "Comus," where the silver lining is the light of the moon shining from behind the cloud.
Was I deceived? or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err, there does a sable cloud,
Turn out her silver lining on the night
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.
Thomas Warton added the commentary: "When all succour ſeems to be lost, Heaven unexpectedly presents the ſilver lining oſ a ſable cloud to the virtuous."
1824, originally in African-American vernacular in the South.
The slaves themselves entertain the very highest contempt for white servants, whom they designate as 'poor white trash.' [Fanny Kemble, journal, Jan. 6, 1833]
[T]he term [poor white] is rather loosely applied by Northern writers even to mountaineers and to small farmers who live on a precarious footing. But in the Southern conception, not everyone who is both poor and white is a "poor white." To the Southerner, the "poor white" in the strictest sense is a being beyond the pale of even the most generous democratic recognition; in the negro's term, "po' white trash," or so much social débris. [Robert Penn Warren, "The Briar Patch," 1930, footnote]
1757, French, literally "out of combat." Hors (prep.) "out, beyond," is from Latin foris (adv.) "outside," literally "out of doors" (see foreign). De is from Latin de "of." For combat see combat (n.). A similar expression from French is hors concours "out of competition" (1884), of a work of art in an exhibition.