Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The governmental department charged with the regulation and control of the affairs of a community, now chiefly the department established to maintain order, enforce the law, and prevent and detect crime.
  • n. A body of persons making up such a department, trained in methods of law enforcement and crime prevention and detection and authorized to maintain the peace, safety, and order of the community.
  • n. A body of persons having similar organization and function: campus police. Also called police force.
  • n. Police officers considered as a group.
  • n. Regulation and control of the affairs of a community, especially with respect to maintenance of order, law, health, morals, safety, and other matters affecting the public welfare.
  • n. Informal A group that admonishes, cautions, or reminds: grammar police; fashion police.
  • n. The cleaning of a military base or other military area: Police of the barracks must be completed before inspection.
  • n. The soldiers assigned to a specified maintenance duty.
  • transitive v. To regulate, control, or keep in order with or as if with a law enforcement agency.
  • transitive v. To make (a military area, for example) neat in appearance: policed the barracks.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To enforce the law and keep order among (a group).
  • v. To patrol an area.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A judicial and executive system, for the government of a city, town, or district, for the preservation of rights, order, cleanliness, health, etc., and for the enforcement of the laws and prevention of crime; the administration of the laws and regulations of a city, incorporated town, or borough.
  • n. That which concerns the order of the community; the internal regulation of a state.
  • n. The organized body of civil officers in a city, town, or district, whose particular duties are the preservation of good order, the prevention and detection of crime, and the enforcement of the laws.
  • n. Military police, the body of soldiers detailed to preserve civil order and attend to sanitary arrangements in a camp or garrison.
  • n. The cleaning of a camp or garrison, or the state � a camp as to cleanliness.
  • transitive v. To keep in order by police.
  • transitive v. To make clean.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Public order; the regulation of a country or district with reference to the maintenance of order; more specifically, the power of each state, when exercised (either directly by its legislature or through its municipalities) for the suppression or regulation of whatever is injurious to the peace, health, morality, general intelligence, and thrift of the community, and its internal safety.
  • n. An organized civil force for maintaining order, preventing and detecting crime, and enforcing the laws; the body of men by whom the municipal laws and regulations of a city, incorporated town or borough, or rural district are enforced.
  • n. In the United States army, the act or process of policing (see police, v., 2): a kind of fatigue duty: as, to go on police; to do police.
  • n. A civil police having a military organization. Such are the French gendarmerie, the sbirri of Italy, and the Irish constabulary.
  • n. In Scotland, one of a body elected by the ratepayers to manage police affairs in burghs.
  • To watch, guard, or maintain order in; protect or control by means of a body of policemen: as, to police a district; to police the inland waters of a country.
  • To clean up; clear out; put in order: as, to police the parade-ground.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the force of policemen and officers
  • v. maintain the security of by carrying out a patrol

Etymologies

French, from Old French policie, civil organization, from Late Latin polītīa, from Latin, the State, from Greek polīteia, from polītēs, citizen, from polis, city.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French police, from Latin politia ("state, government"), from Ancient Greek πολιτεία (politeia). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "Of course, we have," replied Müffling, smiling, "that is to say, we have a police to attend to sweeping the chimneys and cleaning the streets, but as to a _haute police_, we still live in a state of perfect innocence."

    Napoleon and the Queen of Prussia

  • It was the Parliament's first duty to see to the extraordinary police (_haute police_) in its district; it performed the duty badly and weakly.

    A Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, Volume 6

  • * police confiscate more than $1m from phish fans* western military forces turning inward in anticipation of domestic unrest* man says he was informant for fbi in orange county* taser launches headcam for cops* new airport security rules to require more personal information* army to start liaison program with washington state police* the cia: beyond redemption & should be terminated* nfl

    media monarchy

  • Derived from integration of all other set targets, the government knows well enough that public confidence in police is the ultimate performance measure.

    WARNING – BULLSHIT ALERT « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG

  • The ridiculous thought of citizens being hauled off by the label police has been the stuff of comedy for years, the crowning symbol for silly, over-the-top government obtrusiveness.

    Do not remove those ‘do-not-remove’ tags

  • Maybe the term police state is a bit strong for the current situation, but the trend is clear -- Britain is heading that way.

    August 2003

  • Here I am, trying to build a modern police service '- the chief constable did not allow the term police force - 'a service that is at ease with itself and comfortably achieving its goal targets in the key area of law upholdment, and all anybody wants to talk about is your failure to arrest the Peeping Tom murderer.'

    Dead Famous

  • The term police state describes a state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population.

    British Blogs

  • The SWAT team, clad in helmets and black vests adorned with badges and the word police, entered her bedroom and placed her in handcuffs at gunpoint.

    The Conservative Assault on the Constitution

  • Some witnesses describe what they called police coercion in the case.

    Timeline of Troy Davis case

Comments

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  • Japanese take on American Police.

    October 5, 2009

  • Frederick. Gentleman, I beg you will bestow from your superfluous wants something to relieve the pain, and nourish the weak frame, of an expiring woman.
    Count. What police is here! that a nobleman's amusements should be interrupted by the attack of vagrants.
    —Mrs Inchbald, Lovers' Vows, 1798

    Police? The OED gives it an obsolete variant of modern 'policy', but I don't know what sense of 'policy' this is. My best guess is also-obsolete 3. 'A device, a contrivance, an expedient; a stratagem, a trick.'

    N.B. (1) Note odd use of singular address 'Gentleman'. (2) Frederick is begging on behalf of his mother, so it's not as odd as it sounds; on the other hand, she's not in the scene, so perhaps the Count thinks it is.

    July 16, 2009