Slang terms for police officers
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Slang for police officers and/or a warning that police
are approaching. Derived from the television show
Babylon: Jamaican English
term for corrupt establishment systems, often applied
to the police.
Bacon: Derived from Pigs:
often used in the structure "I smell bacon"
to warn of the approaching presence of an officer.
Barney: Term coined after
Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show.
Bear: Short for "Smokey the Bear" in reference to the hats
worn by some U.S. state police being similar to that
of "Smokey the Bear". "Bear bait"
is a reference to speeders, who may draw the attention
of the police and allow slightly slower traffic to
exceed the speed limit in their wake. "Bear in
the Air" is a reference to a police chopper.
Berry: Originating from blueberry, referring to the blue uniform
most officers wear.
Bizzies: Common Liverpool slang term for the police, it was invented
as the police were always too "busy" to
Blue Heelers: This is a term used in Australian and is after a breed
of dog, the Australian Cattle Dog. This term is use
because it accurately describes the personality and
appearance (blue uniform) of a police officer. This
term became used more frequently as it was used for
the Australian police drama series Blue Heelers.
Blue Meanies: This is a 190s hippy slang term for the police, it
was used in the Beatles film the Yellow Submarine,
although many viewers may not have realised its significance.
Bluebottle: A British term for policeman that may
have derived from Cockney rhyming slang. 'Bottle'
is an abbreviation of 'bottle and glass', which is
rhyming slang for 'arse'. (See also Bottles).
Bobby: This is not now widely used in Britain (except by the police,
who still commonly use it to refer to themselves),
though it can occur with a mixture of affection and
slight irony in the phrase "village bobby",
referring to the local community police officer. It
is derived from Robert Peel (Bobby being the usual
nickname for Robert), the founder of the Metropolitan
Bottles: Cockney rhyming slang for Coppers (see below), from
Bottles and Stoppers.
Boys in blue: A reference to the blue uniform worn by some officers.
Bronze: A term used for police officers in the 1979 Mel Gibson movie
Bulls: An American term usually used to refer to railroad police
but may also indicate regular police officers.
Cherry Toppers: Often used in reference to police cars which in most
nations bear red lights on the top of the car.
Cop or Copper: While commonly believed to be an acronym for
Constable On Patrol, the term refers to "one
who captures or snatches". This word first appeared
in the early 18th century, and can be matched with
the word "cap", which has the same meaning
and whose etymology can be traced to the Latin word
'capere'. (The word retains this meaning in other
contexts: teenagers "cop a feel" on a date,
and they have also been known to "cop an attitude".)
Variation: Copper. It is also believed that
the term Copper was the original, unshortened
word, popularly believed to represent the copper badges
American officers used to wear at the time of origin,
but in fact probably used in Britain to mean "someone
who cops" long before this.
Crusher: Of unknown origin but may have
come from the nickname used for the Royal Navy Regulating
Dibble or The Dibble: Arises from the police officer in the
Hanna-Barbera animated programme Top Cat. Most commonly
used in Manchester.
Do-do nutters or The Do-dos: Arises from the stereotype of
police officers eating donuts.
DRC or The DRC: Dirty Rotten Cop(per).
Feds: Usually used in the United States to refer to higher federal
law enforcement agencies, especially the F.B.I. The
term has gained widespread use around the West Midlands
area in the UK, especially Birmingham. Derogatory
slang, possibly due to influence of imported US television
Filth: a widespread term used in several countries.
(Name of city)'s Finest: Used in either admiration,
or slightly derisive irony, in the United States.
In New York City, the term has been adapted to other
civil servants, such as "New York's Bravest"
(the Fire Department) and "New York's Boldest"
(the Department of Correction).
First Bunch of Idiots: Referring to the F.B.I., the federal law enforcement
arm of the United States
Flatfoot: A term that refers to the large amount of walking that
a police officer would do, thus causing flat feet.
Folks, Tha Folks: Southern Louisiana, rarely used.
Fuzz: This North American term first appeared in the 1920s and gained
popularity in the 1930s. This slang term may be in
reference to the sound of the field radios that police
commonly use. It surfaced in Britain in the 1960s.
The Heat: American; putting the heat on someone. (Example: in the
line What a field day for the heat (Stephen
Stills, "For What It's Worth" from Buffalo
Springfield, 1967), Stills is referring to the
The Gaver: Cockney slang for the police - unknown origin - London.
The Guards: Irish term for the Garda Síochána
Heavy or Heavies: Cockney
rhyming slang for the Flying Squad, from the Heavy
Mob, (see also Sweeney).
Horseman: A Canadian term
referring to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Variation:
Jake: A common term used and
created in New York City, New York
John Law or Johnny Law: Used across the United States. Mostly
an older term.
Mama (Maman in South): Hindi
(Malayalam in South) word which means uncle.
Sarcastic reference to a policeman.
The Man: A derisive term popular
during the 1960s and 1970s during the anti-establishment
and anti-authoritarian movements. Implies that police
are a tool of the powerful "man" that is
trying to keep others down.
Member: Used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to refer to fellow
Mounties in place of the usual "officer"
or "constable" (or equivalent) in other
Mr. Plod, P.C. Plod
or Plodder: a British term that arose from
the Noddy books by Enid Blyton, in which Mr. Plod
was the village policeman. "Plod" has also
commonly been used by the British police themselves,
as has its (generally disparaging) female equivalent
Laws: A term originated in Houston, Texas.
One Time: A term where its meaning is derived from
where if arrested all it takes is "one time"
to be put away (convicted).
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.
Pandu Hawaldar: Indian constabulary (and not officers)
were recruited mostly from village areas. Pandu
Ram was a common name in the villages. Hawaldar
is a police sergeant.
Peeler: This also comes from Robert Peel (see 'Bobby');
it has largely disappeared in Britain, but is sometimes
used in Northern Ireland.
Pigs: This term was widespread during the 19th century,
disappeared for a while, but reappeared during the
20th century. It became especially popular during
the 1960s and 1970s in the underground hippie and
anti-establishment culture. It has also been used
in anti-authoritarian punk and gangsta rap circles.
Oz magazine showed a picture of a pig dressed as a
policeman on a front cover.
Po-po or Po: A term used commonly
by North American youth and rap artists.
Po-9: A term originating from "po-po",
used mostly in the southern US.
Penelope's: A slang word for the police
term coined by the SF Bay Area rap artist E-40
Rashers: British slang derived from pigs.
Rozzers: A British term. To Rozz was slang
for to roast in the East End of London.
Rollers: An American term believed to
have originated in the San Francisco Bay Area
Scuffers: An old British term.
Scum: Used across Britain, as an insult
to say that the police are lower than the criminals.
Snippers: An African-American term used
mostly in North America.
Soggies: Australian term for officers
of the Special Operations Group.
Sweeney: Cockney rhyming slang
for the Flying Squad, from Sweeney Todd, inspiring
the television series The Sweeney, (see also Heavy).
Smokey: A term from the CB
Radio fad of the 1970s. See "Bear" above.
The Thin Blue Line: Used to
describe the role of the police in being the barrier
between civilized society and anarchy, inspiring a
TV series and a documentary of the same name. This
has led to policemen involved in entrapping gays being
ironically described as "The Thin Blue Jeans".
Tyre Biters: A term typically used for country police
officers because of their habit of being involved
with frequent car chases.
Wallopers: Mostly Commonwealth usage, from "wallop"
meaning to hit or beat.
Woodentops: British term for uniformed police. Believed
to be a reference to the 1950s children's TV series
The Woodentops, very rarely in use.