This is exactly backward. The rhyming slang wouldn’t be the source of such terms but humorous commentary on already existing terms. IOW, The words cop and pig already had to be in common use before the slang could come about.
Didn’t you read the report at all?
Yes, Dex says this in his second paragraph.
It can? By whom? Using what evidence?
Welcome to the Boards, Nick, but if you want to have a good time here you’ll need to remember to read the column you’re commenting on as well as supplying actual evidence and not silly guesses for what you have to say.
As a matter of fact, when I was a kid a cop came to talk to us at our school. He said the term cop did come from the copper of the their badge. And it was derogatory. Now I’m not claiming this cop is an expert in etymology, but although
Dex says this is not the case, he does not say how he knows it’s not the case. So it cannot be dismissed as a possibility.
I was always always worried about such terms. For example, does the phrase “the missing arms of Venus” refer to the famous statue? …or to a science fiction story involving stolen weaponry from the planet?
I can’t believe both Roger Zelazny and Harlan Ellison missed this one.
I also don’t see how “men-at-arms” is in any way ambiguous. Sure, it can be when broken into its componant words - “men” and “arms” - but a phrase is more than the sum of its parts. To use a rather odious example, the term anti-semite is often misinterperated as being ambiguous as well (“aren’t Arabs semites too?”); this is obviously incorrect.
No, “men-at-arms” can have but one meaning - professional soldiers of common descent who serve as members of a feudal household. Warriors who are one step below knights.
Hello teaming millions! Just thought i’d add that my great grand mother (not a great sorce I know) told me that the work copper comes from the copper looking badges that old english police used to wear. I don’t know how true this is but I though i’d flot the idea out there and see what the wise millions think.
Most etymologists discount this. THe story is told about too many different cities, with too many different uniforms, and most of them (when investigated) didn’t use copper. Your grandmother’s take is interesting, “copper-looking” rather than “copper,” but still, the word “copper” predates the traditional uniforms.
An additional point in favour of Dex’s explanation is that at common law, the constable or citizen who wanted to arrest a wrong-doer had to make actual physical contact with them, to control their movements. (“arrest” being derived from French “arrêter” - “Empêcher d’avancer, faire rester en place” - Petit Larousse).
The Supreme Court of Canada re-affirmed the traditional common law requirement for an arrest in the recent case of R. v. Asante-Mensah, at para. 42:
This point was of some significance in cases where an accused was charged with resisting arrest - mere words of command were not a valid arrest at common law.
Thus, using the verb “cop” in the sense of “seize, capture or snatch” indicates that the constable or citizen had met the legal requirement for a valid arrest, because they had actually made physical contact with the wrong-doer and tried to restrain him. A “copper” is thus someone who is in the business of making arrests.
And, the verb “to cop” survives in modern Canadian slang, at least - the phrase “to cop a feel” used by adolescents - is that phrase used in the U.S.?