To Cop

Posted by Lewis on September 11, 2003

In Reply to: Cop posted by ESC on September 11, 2003

: : Is "cop" an acronym for "constable on patrol" Any others you have would be great Thanks.

: I don't think so.

: COP - It doesn't come from the word "copper" meaning the buttons bobbies used to wear, according to one reference. The word "'cop' in the sense of 'one who captures or snatches' is recorded as early as 1704. Indeed, an ancestor word, 'cap,' with the same meaning, came into English from French at the time of the Norman Conquest and can be traced all the way back to ancient Rome's 'capere' (to capture)." From the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

"to cop" something is fairly common - eg teenagers "cop a feel" on a date - and kids are warned that they'll "cop it" or "cop one" if they carry on. It still means to catch or receive something and "coppers" are those who 'cop' villains and crooks.
FYI - police buttons have usually been silver-coloured since police have been an uniformed service.