Pigs in the precinct?

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Tue Sep 21 10:24:51 UTC 1999

On Tue, 21 Sep 1999, Miller, Jerry wrote:

> A colleague asked me about the origin(s) of "pig" as a derisive term for
> police as used so frequently in the '60s. The only reference I could find
> dated it to 1848 but gave no explanation of how it came to be applied to the
> police, which is what he was most curious about. Anybody here know of any
> documented explanation, or is it just the obvious appropriation of the most
> disgusting of barnyard animals (in other words, as a Marx brother would have
> asked, "Why not a duck?")?

The OED has citations back to 1811, but does not explain "why a pig."  It
is unlikely that any definitive explanation, other than that "pig" is used
as a term of derision in a variety of contexts, is possible.

Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

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