Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cop n.1

[note Cumbrian dial. cop, a prison]

1. (orig. US) a police officer.

[US] ‘Hundred Stretches Hence’ in Matsell Vocabulum 124: And where the buffer, bruiser, blowen, / And all the cops and beaks so knowin’.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 5/2: This [fight] did not last long, as the ‘cops’ soon forced their way in.
[US] ‘The Street Arabs of New York’ in Appleton’s Journal (N.Y.) 4 Jan. 47: And then as to the cops — they can’t catch the brats.
[US]Cairo Bull. (Cairo, IL) 5 Nov. 2/3: [from The Graphic, London] Let Blowens flash their ivories and toast the cops to-night.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 Feb. 8/4: She served him with the best of brands, / From bottles with glass stoppers, / When – like weak mortals – of a morn / That brave ‘cop’ had ‘hot coppers.’.
[UK]‘F. Anstey’ Voces Populi 40: Them cowards of cops ’ave as much on their ’ands as they kin do with.
[US] (ref. to 1847) G.W. Walling Recollections 38: One of the men said to the others, ‘Get up – the “cops” are here.’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 13 Mar. 5/3: [headline] A Cop’s Career.
[UK]Marvel III:53 5: Watch them cops dust the road wiv him fer his bloomin’ cheek!
[UK]J. Masefield Everlasting Mercy 55: I staggered into street again / With mind made up (or primed with gin) / To bash the cop who’d run me in.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 13 Jan. 8/2: The ‘cop’ [...] took him to the lock-up.
[US]E.E. Cummings Enormous Room (1928) 33: The Head Cop has particularly requested the pleasure of this distinguished American’s company at déjeuner.
[US](con. 1900s–10s) Dos Passos 42nd Parallel in USA (1966) 63: Jeez, I thought you were a cop.
[US](con. 1919) Dos Passos Nineteen Nineteen in USA (1966) 354: He was a striker parading beaten up by the cops.
[US]H. McCoy They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? in Four Novels (1983) 9: I decided to [...] make the cops take care of me.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 87: We already had the cops out looking for him.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 23: Any cop would do a double-take at the sight of him.
[US]C. Himes Rage in Harlem (1969) 51: A young white cop had arrested a middle-aged drunken coloured woman.
[US](con. 1960s) R. Price Wanderers 23: I was gonna call the cops in ten minutes.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 14: The only Tim he knew was an ex-homicide cop named Gavigan.
[US]Source Oct. 178: Are you afraid of the cops finding out?
[UK]Observer Mag. 9 Jan. 15: ‘What happened?’ he asked a cop.

2. (orig. US) an arrest; esp. in the old (and prob. fictional) cliché, It’s a fair cop, guv, slap the bracelets on.

[UK]J. Bent Criminal Life 67: As soon as I found the watch, the thief called out, ‘This is a clear cop, Mr. Bent’.
[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 192: Awright [...] I’m done; it’s a cop.
[UK]Nottingham Eve. Post 17 Jan. 5/4: When Cox was questioned he said ‘It is a clan cop. I broke in’.
[UK]‘Leslie Charteris’ Enter the Saint 133: Tell me, Spider [...] is this or is this not entitled to be called a cop?
[UK]C. Day Lewis Otterbury Incident 167: ‘Stick ’em up, the lot of you!’ he said. ‘It’s a cop!’.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 285: You were probably the first cop they’d made. [Ibid.] 341: ‘It’s a fair cop,’ said Joe.
[UK]Sun. Times Mag. 12 Mar. 18: Am I supposed to get parts saying, ‘Yes, guv, it’s a fair cop, you’ve got me bang to rights?’.

3. (UK prison) an inmate.

[UK]N. Lucas Autobiog. of a Thief 92: I heard the cry : ‘New cop! New cop!’ taken up and repeated in shrill Cockney voices.

4. a sentence.

[UK]R. Westerby Wide Boys Never Work (1938) 183: Seven years. That’s the cop.

5. (US prison) a warder, a guard.

[US]Edwardsville Intelligencer (IL) 30 Mar. 2/2: Guards [...] are called ‘cops’ in federal institutions and ‘bulls’ in state facilities.
[US]Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale, IL) 7 Apr. 4/1: Prison Slang [...] Police, hack, pig, cop. Guards.
[US]T. Fontana ‘Straight Life’ Oz ser. 1 ep. 5 [TV script] Kitchen’s the first place the cops would look [i,.e for drug smuggling].
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 59: If he didn’t want the cops to spot his face at the wire-reinforced cell window, he would drop to the floor and shout under the door.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 167: How you named those people made you either a con or a cop. There was [...] no neutrality.

In derivatives

copess (n.)

see separate entry.

In compounds

copbusy (v.)

see separate entry.

cop house (n.)

(US) a police station.

C. Coe Swag 57: Just what did they ask you over there at the cop house?
[US]R. Chandler Playback 165: The cop house was part of a long, modernistic building.
[US]J. Conaway Big Easy 137: This is your man at the cop house [...] I’m quitting.
Lou Grant 20 Sept. [TV series] [episode title] Cophouse.
‘Lance Lawson’ at www.lileks.com [Internet] The prisoner looked around, confused. ‘Wha – this isn’t the cophouse. This is a parking lot for a hash joint.’.
R. Wiley ESPN [Internet] Let me just say this, just to let you in on how it goes in the phone room on the night cophouse beat.
cop killer (n.)

(US) a Teflon-coated bullet capable of penetrating the body armour worn by police officers; such bullets are outlawed.

Cop Killer Bullets [NBC-TV programme] .
Minnesota Daily Online 16 May [Internet] President Clinton memorialized slain police officers Wednesday as ‘America’s heroes’ and urged Congress to ban ‘cop-killer’ bullets so officers can feel safer.
copman (n.)

see separate entry.

cop shop (n.) [shop n.1 (1)]

(orig. Aus.) a police station; cite 2008 refers to a city’s police department.

[Aus]Mirror (Sydney) 13 Oct. 3: A lump on his fat head as big as an egg, thanks to the tripehound’s rudder work, And while he was in dreamland, Spotty dragged him hence, and he’ll rest in the cop-shop while his bump goes down, and a bit longer, we hope.
Gundagai Times (NSW) 13 JAn. 3/2: Taking them to the cop-shop in the car, he charged them.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 21 June 12/5: The policeman promptly steered for the nearest cop-shop — with George In tow.
[UK]I. Holden There’s No Story There 89: Outside the cop-shop two policemen were staring after him.
[Aus]Cootamundra Herald (NSW) 19 Aug. 2/1: ‘Look, lady, this is the cop shop, not an S.P. shop,’ broke in Sgt Loomes.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 285: He brought me to the cop-shop.
[Aus]A. Buzo Rooted I iii: They put him in a paddy wagon with all the pros and cons. We had to go up to the cop shop and bail him out.
[UK]N. Smith Gumshoe (1998) 174: ‘Where’s the money, lad?’ ‘Down the cop shop.’.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Real Thing 61: I’ve been past the cop-shop three bloody times.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 274: One part of the bar is full of polis from the Leith cop shop.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Hot-Prowl Rape-O’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 294: We hit the cop shop. Cops recognized Donna.
[US]Simon & Pelecanos ‘Late Editions’ Wire ser. 5 ep. 9 [TV script] What about this Daniels. You think he’s ready to run the cop shop.
[Aus]P. Temple Truth 16: There’s like a whole suburb of unsold million-buck apartments. All spruiked to be as safe as living next door to the Benalla copshop in 1952.
[Aus] G. Johnstone ‘No Through Road’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] A few hours later I’m sat in a cop shop on St Kilda Road.

In phrases

horse cop (n.)

(US) a police officer riding a horse.

[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 302: Horse cops are a common sight all over midtown New York.
Lost Trailers Tour Journal 26 July [Internet] At one point I did steal a quick glance behind me and saw a horse cop shining his flashlight around the parking lot.
soft cop (n.) [note the trad. hard cop/soft cop interrogation routine]

a gullible, well-meaning person, e.g. a community/social worker whose sympathies can be exploited.

[UK]Guardian 19 Mar. [Internet] Thanks to Madd, no more soft cop for DUIs. If you test positive it’s handcuffs, the drunk tank and big-stick punishment.

In exclamations

cop bung! [fig. use of bung v.1 (4)]

(UK Und.) look out! the police are coming!

[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue 38: A cross-cove, who had his regulars, called out ‘cop bung’.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 17: cap [sic] bung Hand it over; give it to me.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. 10/1: Jack buzzed a bloak and a shickster of a reader and a skin. A cross-cove, who had his regulars for stalling, cried ‘Cop bung,’ as a pig was marking. Jack speeled to the crib. Jack picked the pockets of a gentleman and a lady of a pocket-book and a purse. A fellow-thief, who had his share of the plunder for watching, cried ‘Hand over the property,’ as someone was observing. Jack ran away home.
[UK]Barrère & Leland Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.