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My twelve year old son has just asked me why we call policemen, coppers. Now he is too young for me to tell him what I really call them but the only polite thing that I could come up with is;-
Does anyone know?
When you get caught doing something you shouldn't you get "copped"; that's where it comes from. Don't ask me about Plod, Fuzz or Pigs though...
they've been called pigs in london since the early 1800's something to do with a street near bow street i think, they've always been known as peelers or bobbies.
i think coppers started from copying the 30's gangster movies, coppers in britain has always been small change.
I think that the the slang for the police 'copper' comes from cockney rhyming slang. Coppers = Grasshoppers, and hence the terms of 'copshop' or 'grass shop', directly deriving from 'Bottles and Stoppers' (coppers) and then the term 'grass' deriving from the slang for someone who grasses someone else up etc.
they are called that cos theyre 2 a penny.. ..derives from the olden days of cockney rhyming slang..grass hoppers...coppers..to tell on someone..
have a nice day
one of the old school...whats a test ??
In the haulage industry since 1963
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary:
Around the year 1700, the slang verb cop entered English usage, meaning "to get ahold of, catch, capture." By 1844, cop showed up in print, and soon thereafter the -er suffix was added, and a policeman became a copper, one who cops or catches and arrests criminals. Copper first appeared in print in 1846, the use of cop as a short form copper occured in 1859.
OK.. I gone and done me research now! The first Corn Laws were introduced in 1815 in order to ptotect the interests of wealthy landowners in England so to protect the price of home grown wheat after the Napoleonic wars. Irish farmers could not grow wheat because of the peaty soil and 'The Irish Potato' famine took place. Robert Peel was Sec of State for Ireland, and he tried to quell the growing unrest in Ireland, by forming a sort of Poilice force but he failed.
In 1822 he became Home Sec and he greatly reformed the penal sytem, but because of growing civil unrest about the price of wheat, he introduced The Metropolitan Police Act. Peel merely expanded on the idea of The Bow Street Runners who had been formed in about 1750, an ununiforned group of runners that went out looking for suspects for Bow Street Magistrates Court.
True Cockneys are said to born in the sound of Bow Bells and this is supposed to be the heart of the 'Eastend' The Cockneys were fearful of the new Peelers or Bobbies on their streets. The Eastend was a slum where the common folk lived, and they took umbridge at the fact that the 'beak' were so visible, so they started to use codes with each other when they thought that the police were in the vicinity, and from there sprung cockney rhyming slang.
As I have said before, the term 'copper' in its widest sense, derives from the old cockney rhyming slang. BOTTLE STOPPER = copper or GRASSHOPPER = copper. The term 'Grass' is probably a direct link to the slang of grasshopper (someone who tells tales) as Truckyboy has pointed out, and the fact that they used the term 'Copper' in the first place because, as Kate has already pointed out (well researched Kate) that 'cop' was an expression meaning to 'catch' Therefore they probably took a common word of their time, and rhymed it up!
I remember running down the A1 one night in the 80's when a driver who i knew from A1 transport called me, he was running behind me and had not been that way before, the guys CB handle was 'Drifter' (now dead I think).
The conversation as follows.
"Hey Pat, what are the cops like down this way ?"
My reply "Well, most of them are tall with dark, smart uniforms and some of them wear strange pointy hats" He was not known for his sense of humour and swore at me, but someone else thought it was hilarious and started laughing over the airwaves, we soon found out that the guys name was 'Skytrain' and he was a motorway patrol cop, I spoke to him every time I ran that way. Skytrain told me that every Motorway patrol car has a CB fitted.
Pat Hasler (Plasticbag)
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