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cover (v.)

mid-12c., "protect or defend from harm," from Old French covrir "to cover, protect, conceal, dissemble" (12c., Modern French couvrir), from Late Latin coperire, from Latin cooperire "to cover over, overwhelm, bury," from assimilated form of com-, here probably an intensive prefix (see com-), + operire "to close, cover," from PIE compound *op-wer-yo-, from *op- "over" (see epi-) + root *wer- (4) "to cover."

Sense of "to hide or screen" is from c. 1300, that of "to put something over (something else)" is from early 14c. Sense of "spread (something) over the entire extent of a surface" is from late 14c. Military sense of "aim at" is from 1680s; newspaper sense first recorded 1893; use in U.S. football dates from 1907. Betting sense "place a coin of equal value on another" is by 1857. Of a horse or other large male animal, as a euphemism for "copulate with" it dates from 1530s.

Meaning "to include, embrace, comprehend" is by 1868. Meaning "to pass or travel over, move through" is from 1818. Sense of "be equal to, be of the same extent or amount, compensate for" is by 1828. Sense of "take charge of in place of an absent colleague" is attested by 1970.

Origin and meaning of cover

cover (n.)

mid-14c., "something laid, placed or spread (on something else),"  from cover (v.). Sense of "something which veils or screens from sight" is from c. 1400. From c. 1500 as "shelter" of any kind, later especially in hunting, "shrubbery, brush, or thickets which conceal game" (1719).

Meaning "binding or wrapper of a book" is from 1590s; that of "envelope or wrapper for a letter" is by 1748. Meaning "recording of a song already recorded by another" is by 1970, short for cover version (1966). Cover-band "band that plays only cover songs" is by 1981. Cover girl is U.S. slang from 1915, shortening of magazine-cover girl (1899).

Cover-charge is attested by 1913. The immediate sense of cover in it appears to be the old one of "plate, knives, forks, spoons, napkin, wine glasses, etc., used at the table by one person," from French couvert, literally "a cover," in the same sense; supposedly they were so called because they were originally brought together in a case.

According to contemporary publications, cover came to include table condiments and bread and butter, and c. 1910 some restaurants began to charge extra for these. ["... a smart New York restauranteur recently made a 'cover charge' of twenty-five cents for bread and butter and ice-water. Others followed." - Edward Hungerford, "The Personality of American Cities," 1913]

In this sense, cover also probably involves the banquet service use of cover for a charge which includes ("covers") everything provided with the food -- menu card, flowers, music, etc.

In recent years hotels, particularly those featuring entertainment in their restaurants, have made a so-called cover charge which includes entertainment in addition to the table service. For instance, at some of the larger hotels in New York, where there is dancing, or cabaret, or high-priced soloists, or entertainment of costly nature provided, there is a cover charge, sometimes as high as $1 the seat. ["Hotel Monthly," December 1917]

Origin and meaning of cover

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Definitions of cover from WordNet
1
cover (v.)
provide with a covering or cause to be covered;
cover the child with a blanket
cover her face with a handkerchief
cover the grave with flowers
cover (v.)
form a cover over;
The grass covered the grave
Synonyms: spread over
cover (v.)
span an interval of distance, space or time;
The period covered the turn of the century
This farm covers some 200 acres
Synonyms: continue / extend
cover (v.)
provide for;
The grant doesn't cover my salary
cover (v.)
act on verbally or in some form of artistic expression;
The course covered all of Western Civilization
Synonyms: treat / handle / plow / deal / address
cover (v.)
include in scope; include as part of something broader; have as one's sphere or territory;
this should cover everyone in the group
cover (v.)
travel across or pass over;
The caravan covered almost 100 miles each day
Synonyms: traverse / track / cross / pass over / get over / get across / cut through / cut across
cover (v.)
be responsible for reporting the details of, as in journalism;
The cub reporter covered New York City
Synonyms: report
cover (v.)
hold within range of an aimed firearm;
cover (v.)
to take an action to protect against future problems;
Count the cash in the drawer twice just to cover yourself
cover (v.)
hide from view or knowledge;
The President covered the fact that he bugged the offices in the White House
Synonyms: cover up
cover (v.)
protect or defend (a position in a game);
he covered left field
cover (v.)
maintain a check on; especially by patrolling;
The second officer covered the top floor
cover (v.)
protect by insurance;
The insurance won't cover this
Synonyms: insure / underwrite
cover (v.)
make up for shortcomings or a feeling of inferiority by exaggerating good qualities;
cover (v.)
invest with a large or excessive amount of something;
She covered herself with glory
cover (v.)
help out by taking someone's place and temporarily assuming his responsibilities;
She is covering for our secretary who is ill this week
cover (v.)
be sufficient to meet, defray, or offset the charge or cost of;
Is this enough to cover the check?
cover (v.)
spread over a surface to conceal or protect;
This paint covers well
cover (v.)
cover as if with a shroud;
Synonyms: shroud / enshroud / hide
cover (v.)
copulate with a female, used especially of horses;
The horse covers the mare
Synonyms: breed
cover (v.)
put something on top of something else;
cover the meat with a lot of gravy
Synonyms: overlay
cover (v.)
play a higher card than the one previously played;
Smith covered again
cover (v.)
be responsible for guarding an opponent in a game;
cover (v.)
sit on (eggs);
The female covers the eggs
Synonyms: brood / hatch / incubate
cover (v.)
clothe, as if for protection from the elements;
cover your head!
Synonyms: wrap up
2
cover (n.)
the act of concealing the existence of something by obstructing the view of it;
the cover concealed their guns from enemy aircraft
Synonyms: covering / screening / masking
cover (n.)
a covering that serves to conceal or shelter something;
under cover of darkness
Synonyms: screen / covert / concealment
cover (n.)
bedding that keeps a person warm in bed;
he pulled the covers over his head and went to sleep
Synonyms: blanket
cover (n.)
the protective covering on the front, back, and spine of a book;
Synonyms: binding / book binding / back
cover (n.)
a natural object that covers or envelops;
the fox was flushed from its cover
under a covering of dust
Synonyms: covering / natural covering
cover (n.)
covering for a hole (especially a hole in the top of a container);
put the cover back on the kettle
Synonyms: top
cover (n.)
fire that makes it difficult for the enemy to fire on your own individuals or formations;
artillery provided covering fire for the withdrawal
Synonyms: covering fire
cover (n.)
a fixed charge by a restaurant or nightclub over and above the charge for food and drink;
Synonyms: cover charge
cover (n.)
a recording of a song that was first recorded or made popular by somebody else;
they made a cover of a Beatles' song
Synonyms: cover version / cover song
cover (n.)
a false identity and background (especially one created for an undercover agent);
her new name and passport are cover for her next assignment
From wordnet.princeton.edu