- a person who makes or repairs casks, barrels, etc.
"craftsman who makes wooden vessels," attested from 1176 as a surname, either from O.E. (unattested) or from a Low Ger. source akin to M.Du. cuper, E.Fris. kuper, from Low Ger. kupe (Ger. Kufe) "cask," cognate with M.L. cupa (see coop)."A dry cooper makes casks, etc., to hold dry goods, a wet cooper those to contain liquids, a white cooper pails, tubs, and the like for domestic or dairy use." [OED]The surname Cowper (pronounced "cooper") preserves a 15c. spelling.
"Each morning, the bell announced the start of the shift, and the crews of tradesmen—carpenters and coppersmiths, tinsmiths and teamsters, plumbers and painters, caulkers and coopers—went about their smoky, cacophonous work."
- Hampton Sides, In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette