Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: The word 'cop' came from an acronym formed from the phrase "Constable on Patrol."
Origins: While there is something intrinsically pleasing to the notion of the familiar and widely-used word 'cop' having entered the language in unusual fashion, whatever we may want to believe, it just didn't happen that way.
"Cop" as a slang term for "police officer" is neither a shortening of "constable on patrol" nor of "citizen on patrol." We've said it before, but it bears saying again: only a few
The word 'cop' also did not enter the slang lexicon as an allusion to the highly polished buttons (which some say were made of copper) on American turn-of-the-century police uniforms or on those worn by the first London police force of the 1820s. It also doesn't refer to the metal various police badges or shields were made from.
Instead, the police-specific use of "cop" made its way into the English language in far more languid fashion. "Cop" has long existed as a verb meaning "to take or seize," but it didn't begin to make the linguistic shifts necessary to turn it into a casual term for "police officer" until the
Barbara "and they've been called many things since then" Mikkelson
Last updated: 22 May 2007
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.