The most commonly heard theories trace \”cop\” or \”copper\” meaning \”police\” to copper buttons worn on early police uniforms, or to copper police badges supposedly issued in some cities, but there is no convincing evidence for any of this. Still other theories explain \”cop\” as an acronym, standing for \”Constable On Patrol,\” \”Chief of Police\” or other such phrases. But these \”acronym\” theories bear all the hallmarks of being spurious after-the-fact explanations invented to explain \”cop. \” Among other sticky details is the fact that acronyms were virtually unknown in English before the 20th century, while \”cop\” itself was well established by the mid-19th century. To cut to the chase, the police sense of \”copper\” and \”cop\” probably comes originally from the Latin word \”capere,\” meaning \”to seize,\” which also gave us \”capture. \” \”Cop\” as a slang term meaning \”to catch, snatch or grab\” appeared in English in the 18th century, ironically originally used among thieves — a \”copper\” was a street thief.
But by the middle of the 19th century, criminals apprehended by the police were said to have themselves been \”copped\” – caught – by the \”coppers\” or \”cops. \” And there you have the etiology of \”cop. \” Case, as the cops say, closed.
Why Police Officers are Sometimes Called БPigsБ Unlike so many other nicknames for the police, such as cops and the fuzz, this particular term has a relatively well known origin. You see, starting around the sixteenth century БpigБ began being used in English as a derogatory term for people, whether police or not, as it still sometimes is used today.
It took about three more centuries, but this particular insult inevitably became a popular nickname for oft-insulted police officers, with the first documented reference to this being in the Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence, published in London in 1811. In it, the pertinent line in question is: БThe pigs frisked my panney, and nailed my screws. Б Meaning: БThe officers searched my house, and seized my picklocks. Б Why БPoindexterБ is Slang for БNerdБ БPoindexterБ as a slang name for a nerdy person comes from a particularly memorable stereotypically nerdy character in the cartoon Felix the Cat. The character in question is the nephew of FelixБs archenemy, the Professor, who is, of course, named Poindexter.
Poindexter was first introduced to the masses in 1959 in the cartoon version of Felix the Cat shown on TV. Over the years, he has typically been depicted in a lab coat, wearing thick glasses, and otherwise personifying stereotypical nerdom in all its glory. Despite having been around for decades, it took another Hollywood creation to really get the popularity of this slang term firmly implanted into common vernacular, rather than as a fringe moniker for nerds. This occurred in the mid-1980s thanks to the character of Arnold Poindexter in the 1984 Revenge of the Nerds. Since then, БPoindexterБ has been a relatively popular moniker for anyone who exhibits extremely nerdy tendencies. If you liked this article, you might also enjoy, as well as: БBobbiesБ are named after former British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, who helped revolutionize the British police force.
The less commonly known БpeelersБ nickname also comes from Sir Robert Peel. As for other common nicknames for the police, we have to delve into murkier waters, but БcopБ probably came from БcopperБ / Бto cop,Б meaning БcaptureБ or Бseize,Б possibly originally derived from the Latin Бcapere,Б meaning Бto seize,Б though this isnБt known for sure. As for Бthe fuzz,Б this term has no origin story nearly definitive enough for me to mention here, with etymologists mostly just guessing in this instance. Though, for your reference, it first popped up among various criminals in the 1920s in North America.