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Posts Tagged ‘policeman’


Posted by Admin on August 23, 2010

Who hasn’t watched a British movie on television and heard characters make reference to the London Bobby?

Robert Peel (1788-1850) introduced the concept of the London policeman in 1844.   As Home Secretary of Great Britain — and later prime minister — he reorganized the London police force into a modern law enforcement agency by way of the Metropolitan Police Act (10 Geo IV, c.44) of 1829.

Officers in the new department were first known as Peelers after their Irish counterparts in a similar reorganization of their police force when Peel was the Home Secretary of Ireland a  number of years earlier.

Peeler was gradually replaced in the public vernacular by bobby which is the shortened form of Robert.   Members of the London force are still known as bobbies still today.

Posted in Idioms from the 19th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Admin on August 18, 2010

Movie and television scripted criminals have invested countless hours into getting away from the “cops.”  How did police officers come to be known as cops in the first place?

Undoubtedly, some of you have heard the urban myth that cop stands for Constable On Patrol.  As plausible as that story sounds, there’s absolutely no fact to that claim.

The word cop first appeared in English in 1695, meaning “to catch.”  It was an off-shoot of the Middle French word caper meaning “seize, to take” and the French word came from the Latin word capere meaning “to take.”

The slang term cop was originally used among thieves in the U.K. with a “copper” being the common, garden variety street thief. Irony turned the tables on the word copper when in 1846 when criminals apprehended by the police were said to have themselves been copped — in other words, caught — by the coppers.  

In 1853, the New York City police adopted full uniforms.  Up until that time, police in major cities in America such as New York and Chicago, were identified by eight-pointed star shaped copper badges over their left breasts instead of a complete uniform identifying them as star police, coppers and cops from the early 1800s onward.

Posted in Idioms from the 17th Century, Idioms from the 19th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »