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come a cropper
1. slang To fall down. Primarily heard in UK. These shoes are too big and caused me to come a cropper as I was walking down the street.
2. slang To fail completely. Primarily heard in UK. Once heralded as a future star of the tech world, Shane came a cropper when his product proved to be a dud.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
To fail badly. “Cropper” comes from a horse's croup or crupper, the part of the animal's back behind the saddle. Someone who parted company from his horse (an involuntary dismount, so to speak) was said to fall “neck and crop.” That became “come a-cropper,” first appearing in the foxhunting author Robert S. Surtees' 1858 novel Ask Mamma: [He] “rode at an impracticable fence, and got a cropper for his pains.” The phrase was picked up and applied to any misadventure, equestrian or otherwise.
See also: come
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price