What are some slang words for “police” in countries besides the US?
What is the origin of the word copper for referring to a police officer? There is no shortage of explanations available on the Web, and as near as I can tell they fall into three categories:
- It is a variation of the Latin capere, meaning, to grab or apprehend — a meaning preserved in expressions like “cop a feel” — that came into use in Britain in the 1700s.
- Early English police forces had very large copper helmets (or, in some versions, buttons).
- The badges worn by early New York police officers were made of copper.
In addition, some sources have the word arising from “the color of the early police or sheriff cars in the western states”, and even from an acronym for “Constable On Patrol”.
What I can’t find is an authoritative reference on the matter. The OED entry seems to support (1) as an application of the word, at least for cop, but is ambiguous about its origin and says only that “other conjectures have been offered” for copper.
Is there a generally agreed to origin for the use of copper for referring to a police officer?