Why don't police prefer the term "cop"?

What is it that the police do not prefer the term “cop”? Is it a terrible term? What is it’s original meaning, and what does it mean to a police officer today? - Jinx

This also anwers your other thread. These days, most police officers even refer to themselves as cops. It’s never had a truly bad connotation, AFAIK.

I had always heard that it was short for copper, and that this term was derived from the copper badges that were warn. However, this may be folk etymology. Wait, I’ll look it up.

It is an abbreviation for “constable on patrol”.

As I’ve been reading for about 10 minutes on police message boards, they really don’t seem to mind being called “cop”.

Cop = grab.
They don’t like “pig”.

One officer on the police boards said:

“After 20 yrs on the streets of Philly,there are two names that I would answer to …
Cop:::Constable on Patrol
Pig :: Pride,Integraty and Guts (sp )
If you are calling me a NAME,I know where you are at.”


Ah, the Word Detective tells a different story about copper:

I don’t think so:

“You are right, it is an honor to be called a cop, when you understand the long and proud history of the term. Your explanation of its origin is one of several considered equally valid by historians.”

That’s what I said. :smack:

Yes, but perhaps you can find a more reputable cite than an unattributed quote from an unknown source. On its own your quote is entirely unconvincing and meaningless.

Or you could stop being such an irritating pseudo-intellectual. It’s from the message-board link I presented above. You could read other posts before you complain about that one. Feel free to click the link and see all the other policemen who share his opinion.

Here’s a question? Whenceforth does the term “Five-Oh” come from?

I know there was a series called ‘Hawaii Five-Oh’ starring Jack Lord, but the name of the series had to have grown out of some legend. . .

I can spot “bears”, “smokies”, and “Five-Oh” on the interstate. I just don’t know where the terms come from.

Actually, I’m with Q.E.D. on this one - when you make a post that contains nothing but a quote with no explanation whatsoever, several posts after the one in which you post a link, my first instinct isn’t to attribute it to your earlier post.

We’re interested in the truth here and The Word Detective is a more reputable source that what some random police officer thinks in this case. It’s very clear that the acronym came along later. This is very, very common in etymology. “Posh” is another example of a word where the acronym came later and has been discussed here many times.


Hawaii is the fiftieth state.


We prefer fact to opinion around here. We also frown on name calling. Feel free to disagree with me, but save the invective for the BBQ Pit.

Aw shit, there’s gotta be more than that. . .

I call 'em out as “Five-0” in the CONUS[sub]Continental US[/sub] and everyone knows what I mean. . .

To their face? No. That’s “Sir” or “Ma’am”.

It appears not:

From here.

In Jack Webb’s intro to the original “Dragnet” series, he usually ended it with something like “That’s when I go to work. I’m a cop.” Supposedly, at some point he was told that “cop” was a derogatory term, and when he resurrected the series in the 1960s, he changed it to “That’s when I go to work. I carry a badge.”