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This one works!

Posted by Bruce Kahl on May 30, 2003

In Reply to: Does the word 'Rozzers' originate in Polari slang? posted by Bruce Kahl on May 30, 2003

: : I wondered where the word 'rozzers' for policemen came from, and the OED provided an earliest definition of 1893:
: : rozzer
: : [Origin unknown.]
: : A policeman, a detective.

: : 1893 P. H. Emerson Signor Lippo xviii. 87 If the rozzers was to see
: : him in bona clobber they'd take him for a gun.

: : The use of the word 'bona' made me wonder if the 1893 reference was a Victorian version of Polari, a gay slang system that I'd heard of in use in the 1950s and 60s Britain, but not so early as this. However, I had been recently reading about the gay codes used by Oscar Wilde in the early 1890's (such as green chrysanthemum buttonholes to signify homosexuality), and the existence of polari in that decade would be logical.
: : So my questions are these:
: : Did Polari slang exist in London in 1893?
: : Did 'rozzers' originate as a gay slang word for policemen?
: : Do you have any further information about the text this quotation derives from?

: : Thanks for your time.

: : Vanessa Carr

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