It was a situation that the police were trying to stop a driver who ran two stop signs. The driver finally got out of the car and said "I couldn't make your car".

From a publication article by Sadah Al Janah:

Ted: "Hi, officer. I think I must be lost."
Officer: "You ran two stop signs, son."
Ted: "I know. I…Couldn't make your car. The highlight were in my eyes, and to be honest, I got a little bit spooked"

Can anyone please explain what it implies in this context?

  • 1
    Where did you get this from? The driver's words here don't seem to mean anything at all (there is no expression to be able to "make" another vehicle on the road in English). Have you perhaps mistranscribed I couldn't shake your car (I wasn't able to drive fast enough to get clean away, and stop you from following me)? May 15 at 11:16
  • (There are no instances of "Couldn't make the [police | patrol | squad] car" in Google Books.) May 15 at 11:20
  • 2
    Are you sure they didn't say Couldn't make your car out? May 15 at 12:15
  • @yosef: Could you make this an answer, preferably with some authoritative sources?
    – Justin
    May 15 at 16:34
  • Given the other usage mistakes apparent in the dialogue in that script(?), I think it was probably intended to mean "I couldn't make out" (see) "your car" like @PeterShor suggested. A couple rows down in the table from where this appears, there's "Excuse me, deputy? He needs to use phone call in a library." Where it should be "needs to make a phone call in the library". Or some other possibility, but anyway, given two instances of mangled grammar within a few lines, I'd expect the whole document to have more. May 15 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


"Couldn't make your car" = Couldn't decode your car as a police car.

"To make" is American police code for making out or spotting that a plain-clothes officer is an undercover cop:

I think he just made me.

So, "I couldn't make your car" would mean ...

No sh!t. Gott in Himmel. Ay Dios mio! Are you the police? Couldn't tell, or I would have stopped earlier! But that's me. My bad. Not angry, are ya?

Need citation here. I hear the phrase He made me! on the TV series of Law & Order and on Chicago PD.

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