Is the term 'cop' considered "insulting" or negative to police officers?

I don’t know why in my head the term “cop” has a negative-connotation to it - maybe it is just me. Is it viewed as a sort of “slang” or an even borderline pejorative term?

Stupid example for illustration, but if you’re at a cocktail party and you introduce yourself as “Hi, I’m Win Place Show, I’m an electrical engineer; and this is my wife Suzie, she’s a cop”. Does this come across differently than “she’s an officer of the law”?

I’ve never heard of it being considered offensive, and I have uncle who is a cop. Cops say “cop.”

“Pig” on the other hand pisses them all sorts of off. I don’t recommend it.


This is probably better suited for IMHO than GQ.

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I’d consider that very defamatory. You should really stay away from terms like “electrical engineer”. “Cop” is fine, though.

Way back when, it used to be offensive. I can’t say how offensive, tho.

I was watching some movie from the 40s/50s/somethings, and there was a detective speaking to some woman.

Detective: '…blah, blah, blah…you broads…blah…blah…blah…"

Woman: ‘…a woman hates being called a broad almost as much as policemen hate being called cops…’

During my youth in the 60s, we were taught that it was insulting.

“Cop” is informal but in my experience it is not pejorative. It’s the most common term for police officer in casual conversation.

My cousin’s husband is a policeman, and for a while she was working as a bailiff. Whenever they came over to the house, we would shout, “Better watch out! The cops are here!”

As a joke, they would alway bring donuts.:smiley:

Thank you for that - I was sort of 52/48 on GQ-vs-IMHO, so I took a shot. We’ll see if this thread gets legs at all, but I think I’ve gotten the answer I was looking for (i.e. not offensive in this day and age - may have been, years and years ago).

I did chuckle at leahcim’s post, though.

Variation of “Oserfer/Ossifer” is dead give away you are under the influence.

The word “Cop” might come from “Copper” of the badge or “Capture” or “Captor”. I’ve read somewhere it was originally considered a derogatory term but the common usage made them acceptable term for Police. I once got pulled over for speeding by an undercover detective flashing only his front white lights. I didin’t stop initially until he caught up to me and waved me down but even then I thought of not stopping because they are supposed to have, I think, blue and red light? When he came up to my window I asked him “Are you really a cop?” He wasn’t offended by it at all, I think.

Context and tone are important as well. “Can I help you, officer?” usually gets a better response than “What do you want, cop?”

I recall reading that it was related to the less-commonly-used verb “cop”, meaning it seize, capture, or snatch. I think it was on some obscure website somewhere.

We have a friend who reacts to a knock at the door with “Cheese it! It’s the fuzz!”

I’ll have to remember that one; that’s so me!!

When I dad was a cop, back in the early 1970s, he was in community relations for a while (he started Kansas City’s “Officer Friendly” program). One of his programs was the yearly “Pigs vs. Freaks” softball game in Volker Park. Rather predictable, the cops routinely won.

I’ve heard a story about it. I can’t swear to the accuracy of the tale, but this is what I’ve heard. In the early seasons of Dragnet, Jack Webb opened each episode with the words “My name is Friday. I’m a cop.” The reaction from the police was basically, “we love the show, mostly, but please stop calling us cops.” So it was changed to “I carry a badge” in later seasons. So, it was considered derogatory in the early 50’s, but probably not today.

I believe that it would be better to say officer. Officer is a more respectful term.

Cop has gone from pejorative to neutral, which is a fairly unusual language development.

What about LEO? Is that pejorative or not? What does it even mean?

LEO = Law Enforcement Officer

I’ve always assumed it to be “law enforcement officer”, which (in my mind) is less offensive than “cop”