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I've heard quite a few times the term "five O" (eg in the US TV show "the Wire").

It seems to mean "police" (inferred from the context), and I'm curious to know where the expression comes from, and if it has a broader meaning than just "police".

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I'm not sure it's a dupe but: Slang words for Police –  Alenanno Jul 8 '11 at 20:53
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4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

It comes from the American police show Hawaii Five-O; "five-o" has since become a slang term for police. In the show, "Five-O" is just a police unit, but the name itself doesn't really mean anything other than a designation (I believe the writers named it "Five-O" in homage to Hawaii, the 50th US state and the location of the show).

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From the old cop show Hawaii Five-O, sadly enough (which in turn got its name from the fact that Hawaii was the 50th state to join the union).

I wonder if cops in Cleveland bust down the door yelling “Ohio One-Seven”?

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Actually, it is Five-0, and it refers to the police car, not the officer. The term comes from the fact that almost all police cars around the nation were the Ford Crown Victoria with the 5.0 Liter Police Interceptor package. The old cars used to have an emblem that read "5.0" on each side of the car (this is the same emblem that was used on the 5.0 liter Mustangs). Hence, people began warning when the cops were coming by screaming Five-0 whenever they say a cop car.

Read more: Why is "five-oh" used to mean "police"? | Answerbag http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/475158#ixzz1kMB2JnkO

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Interesting, but I don't believe it (and neither do the commenters on your reference). I'm convinced by the Hawaii Five-O story. –  slim Jan 24 '12 at 10:19
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Ignoring the basic implausibility of the story, I would like to point out that the Crown Vic Police Interceptor came with a 4.6L engine. –  Malvolio Jan 24 '12 at 12:02
    
@Malvolio 1990 and later CVPIs had a 4.6 L Modular V8, but in the '80s LTD CVs had a 5.0 L Windsor V8. Regardless, Hawaii Five-O aired 10 years earlier – so it's still the most likely explanation. –  rdhs Jan 30 '12 at 17:26
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Five-O is a similar derivative to the petroleum company Esso.

Back in the day when petroleum companies such as Gulf and Texaco had very bold and captivating signs the Standard Oil Company was looking for an equally bold and captivating sign. they played around with the letters S.O. and decided it was too short so they stretched it out by spelling S with ESS and adding the O, hence the word ESSO for Standard Oil.

Five - 0 is used to warn about the Sherrifis Office arriving.

The vehicles do have the capital letter S (for sheriff) which is replaced by the number 5 and then capital letter O (for office).

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Felt like writing some fiction, eh? –  Matt Эллен Apr 21 '12 at 13:08
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protected by Jasper Loy Apr 22 '12 at 9:20

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