late 14c., coupen, "to quarrel;" c. 1400, "come to blows, deliver blows, engage in combat," from Old French couper, earlier colper "hit, punch," from colp "a blow" (see coup).
The meaning evolved by 18c. into "handle (successfully), deal with," perhaps influenced by now-obsolete cope "to traffic, bargain for, buy" (15c.-17c.), a word in North Sea trade, from the Flemish version of the Germanic source of English cheap, and compare Copenhagen. Related: Coped; coping.