police
Pronunciation
  • (RP, AU, GA, Scotland) IPA: [pə̆ˈliˑs]
  • (England, colloquial) IPA: /ˈpliːs/
  • (Southern American English, AAVE) IPA: /ˈpoʊ.liːs/
Noun
  1. A civil force granted the legal authority for law enforcement and maintaining public order. [from 18th c.]
    Call the police!
    The police operating in New York City operate under the New York City Police Department, several other city agencies and boards, and several public authorities.
    • There’s only one police in this town.
  2. (regional, chiefly, US, Caribbean, Scotland) A police officer. [from 19th c.]
  3. (figuratively) People who seek to enforce norms or standards.
    thought police
  4. (military, slang) The duty of cleaning up.
    • 1907, Hearings Before the Committee on Military Affairs, United States Senate, concerning the Affray at Brownsville, Tex. on the Night of August 13 and 14, 1906 (volume 2)
      Q. […] What did you do that day? — A. I was cleaning up around quarters.
      Q. You had been on guard and went on police duty? You were policing, cleaning up around the barracks? — A. Yes, sir.
  5. (obsolete) Policy. [15th-19th c.]
  6. (obsolete) Communal living; civilization. [16th-19th c.]
  7. (now, rare, historical) The regulation of a given community or society; administration, law and order etc. [from 17th c.]
    • 2002, Colin Jones (historian), The Greta Nation, Penguin 2003, page 218:
      The notion of ‘police’ – that is, rational administration – was seen as a historical force which could bring civilized improvement to societies.
Synonyms
  • (an organisation that enforces the law) seeSynonyms en
  • (a police officer) seeSynonyms en
Translations Verb

police (polices, present participle policing; past and past participle policed)

  1. (transitive) To enforce the law and keep order among (a group).
    Extra security was hired to police the crowd at the big game.
  2. (ambitransitive, military, slang) To clean up an area.
    • 1900, Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, Proceedings of the eighth annual meeting
      This comes to him through the company housekeeping, for in the field each organization takes care of itself, cooks its own food, makes its own beds, does its own policing (cleaning up); […]
    • 1907, Hearings Before the Committee on Military Affairs, United States Senate, concerning the Affray at Brownsville, Tex. on the Night of August 13 and 14, 1906 (volume 2)
      Q. […] What did you do that day? — A. I was cleaning up around quarters.
      Q. You had been on guard and went on police duty? You were policing, cleaning up around the barracks? — A. Yes, sir.
    • 2006, Robert B. Parker, Hundred-Dollar Baby, Putnam, ISBN 0399153764, page 275,
      "Fire off several rounds in a residential building and stop to police the brass?"
  3. (transitive, figurative) To enforce norms or standards upon.
    to police a person's identity



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