List of police-related slang terms
Many slang terms, often considered offensive, exist for police officers. These terms are rarely used by the police themselves and instead are used by criminals, prisoners or even by the general public.
Police services also have their own internal slang and jargon; some of it relatively widespread geographically and some very localized.
- Jamaican, establishment systems, often applied to the police. Also used in Black English outside of Jamaica . Derived from the Rastafari movement which, in turn, relies upon a Babylon (New Testament) interpretation symbolising debauchery, corruption and evil-doing in general.
- see Old Bill "The Bill" is the title of two decades of TV soap opera in the UK, based in a fictional London borough.
- UK, derived from the Conservative British Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel (Bobby being a nickname for Robert) the founder of the Metropolitan Police. Occurs in fixed phrases e.g. "bobby on the beat", "village bobby"
- Boys in blue
- in reference to the blue uniform.
- Old Swedish slang for patrolling officers. The word is of uncertain origins and rarely used nowadays.
- Cherry Toppers, Cherry Tops, or Cherries
- Often used in reference to police cars which in some nations bear red lights on the top of the car. See Cherry top (slang).
- UK slang term for Community Support Officers, Acronym for Completely Hopeless In Most Policing Situations
- Cop Shop
- Australian (and other Commonwealth English) slang for police station. Cop Shop was a long running Australian television series.
- Cop or Copper
- The term Copper was the original, unshortened word, originally used in Britain to mean "someone who captures". (In British English the term Cop is recorded (Shorter Oxford Dictionary) in the sense of 'To Capture' from 1704, derived from the Latin 'Capere' via the Old French 'Caper'). The common myth is that it's a term referring to the police officer's buttons which are made of copper.
- Cop derives from a Gaelic word which has the equivalence of saying, protector, leader, or chief. The terms are almost nearly homophonic but have similar meanings.
- Slang for detectives. Apparently originally coined in Canada and brought south by rumrunners during Prohibition. The fictional comic strip character Dick Tracy was given the first name of "Dick" in token of its being a slang expression for "detective".
- Usually used in the United States to refer to higher federal law enforcement agencies, especially the F.B.I., recently caught on in Great Britain owing to the spread of American media. Also widely used in Australia as a slang term for Australian Federal Police.
- Spanish, the Mexican Federal Police. The term gained widespread usage by English-speakers due to its popularization in films. The term is a cognate and counterpart to the slang "Feds" in the United States.
- Normally "The Filth", UK, the police. Inspiration for the Irvine Welsh novel Filth Also common in Australia and New Zealand, as with many other originally British police-related terms (especially given Australia's origins as a Commonwealth Nation with strong British influences, notably in law and policing origins).
- A term that refers to the large amount of walking that a police officer would do, thus causing flat feet.
- First appeared in the 1920s, corruption of "force" (see above). The term was used in the title of Hot Fuzz, a 2007 police-comedy film.
- Cockney (English) for a police informant: Grasshopper = Copper. An alternative suggestion is "Narc in the Park".
- US, derogatory, slang for detectives, who are ostensibly wearing soft-heeled shoes or Hush Puppy shoes so they can follow suspects without being noticed.
- Jam sandwich
- UK, police traffic car, from the now largely obsolete historical colour-scheme – an overall white vehicle, with a longitudinal red, or red and yellow, stripe on each side.
- Used in Kenya to refer to police; Seen as derogatory, source is the sheng language (mashup of English and Kiswahili)
- Russian, referring to OMON policeman equipped with riot gear (literally "cosmonaut").
- Law or The Law
- Probably an abbreviation of the phrase "The long arm of the law" (suggesting that no matter how far they run, all criminals are eventually caught and prosecuted successfully).
- Legawye (pl)
- Russian Легавые sg Легавый. Literally "gundog", "pointer". This was logo of Moscow Investigation Department in 1928.
- The police force that preceded the Gendarmerie as the law enforcement agency in rural France. The Marechaussee was under the control of the Marechal (eng: Marshall) de France, hence the name. In the Netherlands, the koninlijke marechaussee remains the military police force with civilian powers similar to the French Gendarmerie. The gendarmerie was established after the French revolution. French slang, mostly used in rural areas and aimed to the gendarmes.
- Mr. Plod, P.C. Plod or Plodder
- UK, slang, literary, (also used in Australia) from the Noddy books by Enid Blyton, in which Mr. Plod was the village policeman.
- Canada, colloquial, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Munie: United States. means municipal police officer. from a city or town.
- a term used for a narcotics (drugs) officer, especially those undercover.
- Old Bill
- A term in use in London among other areas, inspiring the television series The Bill. The origin of this nickname is obscure; according to the Metropolitan Police themselves, there are at least 13 different explanations.
- A derogatory Chilean term for Carabineros, the national police force of Chile. In Costa Rica, a familiar term for police, loosely derogatory. The term comes from the nickname 'Paco' given to Francisco Calderón, a Security Minister in the 1940s.
- Paddy Wagon
- A police van.
- Panda Car
- UK, a police car. Named because they were originally painted with large panels of black and white, or blue (usually light blue) and white. First started by the Lancashire Constabulary in the 1960s.
- Peeler, Peelers
- UK, slang, archaic, from Sir Robert Peel (see 'Bobby').
- This derogatory term was frequently used during the 19th century, disappeared for a while, but reappeared during the 20th and 21st century. It became frequently used again during the 1960s and 1970s in the underground and anti-establishment culture. Now prevalent in many English-speaking countries. It is also used in anti-authoritarian punk and hip-hop circles. Oz magazine showed a picture of a pig dressed as a policeman on a front cover.
- An allusion to Mr Plod the Policeman in Enid Blyton's Noddy stories for children, to plod meaning to walk doggedly and slowly with heavy steps. Also known as "PC Plod".
- Argentinean slang term for police officers derived from "rata" (rat). Also derived from vesre pronunciation of tira, since older police uniforms would feature a leather strap across the officer's chest.
- FrenchIn the 18th century undercover detective in high society were dressed in redish (roussâtre) long jacket.
- From 'Robert', after Sir Robert Peel (1788–1850), commonly considered the father of modern policing, and who established the Metropolitan Police Force in London (1829).
- The Thin Blue Line
- The role of the police in being the barrier between civilized society and chaos, inspiring a UK sitcom and two documentaries of the same name.
- Town Clown
- Town or city police officers, contrasted with county or state police. Usually considered derogatory.
- "Babylon definition". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 14 Nov 2014.
- ""bobby" – Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford University Press. April 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- "Svenska Akademiens ordbok". G3.spraakdata.gu.se. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
- "ex DS Roddy Llewelyn".
- Partridge, Eric (1972). A Dictionary of Historical Slang. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 014051046X.
- "Definition for filth – Oxford Dictionaries Online". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- ""fuzz" – Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford University Press. April 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- Farmer and Henley's 1893 Dictionary of Slang
- "Sheng Kamusi. Search or translate for sheng words". Sheng.co.ke. Retrieved 2014-06-15.
- "The cosmonauts have landed: tales from an occupied Moscow". openDemocracy. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2014-06-15.
- "Новости NEWSru.com :: Пикеты перед Останкино: ОМОН задержал около 100 человек, акция завершилась песнями и фото с "космонавтами"". Newsru.com. 2012-03-18. Retrieved 2014-06-15.
- Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (6th ed.), Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-19-920687-2
- "Origins of the name "Old Bill"". Metropolitan Police. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- Juan José Marín (22 March 2010). "Francisco Calderón". Calderocomunismo.blogspot.com. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
- Dex (31 May 2005). "Why are the police called cops, pigs, or the fuzz?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
- An Oz magazine cover with a pig dressed as a police officer.[dead link]
- "plod" in Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford University Press. April 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- Olivier Leroy (1922). A Glossary of French Slang. World Book Company. p. 141. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- Ayto, John (2003). Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198607636.