[Ads-l] "cop" < "copper": Etymology, etymythology, or Scotch verdict?

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Tue Jul 11 14:59:29 EDT 2017


As I understand it (under the auspices of the Sainted George Washington Matsell)
originally silver, only later copper ...

Not terribly popular with the Force, at first, but Matsell persevered.

Robin

> 
>     On 11 July 2017 at 19:54 Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> 
>     Does anyone know for a fact that the original NYPD badges were made of
>     copper?
> 
> 
> 
>     On Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 5:40 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
>     wrote:
> 
>     > HDAS sagely offers no opinion on this.
>     >
>     > Observe that neither HDAS nor OED find early exx. that say, "called
>     > _coppers_ because of the large copper badges worn upon their breasts."
>     >
>     > If the familiar "cop," v., had not been the obvious presumptive ety.,
>     > I'd
>     > expect to see an explicit explanation otherwise before the term became
>     > thoroughly familiar.
>     >
>     > Of course, if some mute inglorious Runyon had decided to call police
>     > "coppers" because of their badges (and because he'd never heard the v.
>     > _cop_), most of his admiring associates would presumably have assumed
>     > that
>     > the verb was the true etymon.
>     >
>     > As would most everybody else, unless advised to the contrary.
>     >
>     > Ockham's billy suggests the verb is the more likely culprit (or as we
>     > say
>     > today, "perp" < "perpetual criminal.")
>     >
>     > Lighter's Law: The most colorful non-ludicrous etymology will always
>     > recommend itself.
>     >
>     > JL
>     >
>     >
>     >
>     >
>     > On Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 9:26 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
>     > wrote:
>     >
>     > > From a review in the NYTBR of a new history of the New York Police
>     > > Department:
>     > >
>     > > ============
>     > > https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/28/books/review/law-and-
>     > > disorder-nypd-bruce-chadwick.html
>     > >
>     > > Chadwick can be sloppy in his word choices. Early on he uses the
>     > > descriptions “cops” and constables interchangeably, but then explains
>     > that
>     > > the term “cop” was born later, when police officers got copper badges.
>     > > ===========
>     > > This suggests that author Chadwick and/or reviewer Jamieson assume
>     > > that
>     > > “cop” in fact derives from NYPD (or other) constables’ wearing copper
>     > > badges.
>     > >
>     > > Now we know that the derivation of “cop” from “Constable On Patrol” is
>     > > a
>     > > classic faux-acronymic etymythology, right up there with POSH, NEWS,
>     > GOLF,
>     > > WOG, and FUCK. But I always thought “cop” < “copper” was also
>     > > generally
>     > > dismissed, and that the standard wisdom is that it’s a
>     > > conversion/zero-derivation from the verb “to cop” (‘take, capture,
>     > > nab’).
>     > > At first glance it seems as though the OED seems to allow for both
>     > > possibilities, along with various cites going back to the 1840s and
>     > 1850s:
>     > >
>     > > Cop, n. 5
>     > > Etymology: Compare cop v.3 and copper n.4
>     > >
>     > > However, on closer examination, *this* “copper” is not the metal used
>     > > in
>     > > badges (= copper n.1), but rather an agentive noun derived from the
>     > > above
>     > > verb:
>     > >
>     > > Copper n.4
>     > > Etymology: apparently < cop v.3; but other conjectures have been
>     > > offered.
>     > >
>     > > So that would mean a derivation along the lines of
>     > >
>     > > cop, v. ‘to seize’ > copper ‘one who cops’ > cop (by clipping)
>     > >
>     > > —which seems to suggest that the idea that “cop" has anything to do
>     > > with
>     > > the copper in badges is indeed an etymythological reconstruction—or is
>     > it?
>     > > (The “other conjectures have offered” does leave the door open, to
>     > > something.)
>     > >
>     > > AHD5 supports the same two-stage derivation, verb to agentive noun to
>     > > truncated form:
>     > >
>     > > cop, v. > copper ‘one who cops’ > cop, n.
>     > >
>     > > Can the derivation from copper badges be definitively rejected? Is
>     > > current slang “copper” a remnant from the earlier noun—
>     > >
>     > > 1846 Sessions Papers 16 May 39 I have heard the police called coppers
>     > > before.
>     > >
>     > > (Seems like current “copper”, at least in the U.K., is used in the
>     > > sense
>     > > of ‘informant’ rather than ‘police officer’, judging from the OED
>     > > cites.)
>     > >
>     > > Does anyone else know more about the genealogy of “cop"?
>     > >
>     > > LH
>     > > ------------------------------------------------------------
>     > > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>     > >
>     >
>     >
>     >
>     > --
>     > "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
>     > truth."
>     >
>     > ------------------------------------------------------------
>     > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>     >
> 
> 
> 
>     --
>     -Wilson
>     -----
>     All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
>     come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>     -Mark Twain
> 
>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>     The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>

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