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#1
Old 02-14-2003, 09:30 AM
And Full Contact Origami
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Did "Cop" come from "copper" or Constable On Patrol

In this thread, the discussion takes a sideline veer into the origin of the word 'cop'. Since it's completely irrelevant to the subject of the thread, I thought I'd open a new one.

What is the etymology of calling a police officer a cop?

- Rick
#2
Old 02-14-2003, 09:34 AM
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I don't think anyone knows for sure, but it's probably from "cop" meaning to grab. http://urbanlegends.com/language...mology_of.html
#3
Old 02-14-2003, 09:34 AM
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http://wordorigins.org/wordorc.htm

Quote:
Several popular etymologies, all certainly false, exist for this word meaning policeman. One says that it is an acronym standing for Constable On Patrol. Another says that the first policemen in London (or another city--it varies in the telling) had copper buttons on their uniforms. Yet another says that it was not buttons, but a copper badge that gave them the name.
While the ultimate origin is disputed, most authorities agree that it is a shortening of copper. Cop was first used in 1859 and copper predates it from 1846. Copper, as slang for policeman, derives from the verb to cop, which dates from 1704 and means to catch. The OED2 notes that an 1864 newspaper stated that people would exhibit a copper coin as they passed a policeman, in effect calling them copper. This may have been the beginning of the confusion with the metal copper.

The ultimate origin of the verb copper is disputed. It either derives from the Dutch kapen, meaning to take. This in turn comes from the Old Frisian capia, meaning to buy. The other choice is that it derives from the French caper, to take, and ultimately from the Latin capere.
#4
Old 02-14-2003, 10:05 AM
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Once again, you can forget about any etymology that claims that a word known from before the 20th century came from an acronym. They just didn't do them back then. "Cop" didn't come from "Constable on Patrol." "Posh" didn't come from "Port Out, Starboard Home." "Tip" didn't come from "To Insure Promptness." "Wog" didn't come from "Wise Oriental Gentleman."
#5
Old 02-14-2003, 10:29 AM
And Full Contact Origami
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Wendell:

While I've heard what you claim above many times before, and believe it to be true, it occurs to me now I don't have a particular citation for it -- nor, sadly, does your post.

So what's the authority for the proposition that acronyms from before 1900 were just not done?

- Rick
#6
Old 02-14-2003, 10:47 AM
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I always thought it came from "Citizens On Patrol".
#7
Old 02-14-2003, 12:37 PM
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Bricker
So what's the authority...?

Sources whose etymological claims are based on reliable mainstream sources such as the OED. For instance, Errors in Popular Etymology, again at wordorigins.org
#8
Old 02-14-2003, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bricker
Wendell:

While I've heard what you claim above many times before, and believe it to be true, it occurs to me now I don't have a particular citation for it -- nor, sadly, does your post.

So what's the authority for the proposition that acronyms from before 1900 were just not done?

- Rick
Also see this thread and check out the links that are given there.
#9
Old 02-14-2003, 03:11 PM
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Note that there's a singular, and significant, exception to the "claims of derivation based on acronyms and abbreviations before 1900 are false" rule. To wit, O.K. Everything else, pretty much, is bunkum.
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