Definition of police in English:


Syllabification: po·lice
Pronunciation: /pəˈlēs


(treated as plural, usually the police)
  • 1The civil force of a national or local government, responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order.
    More example sentences
    • Council officers supported the police in offering crime prevention advice to residents.
    • Faced with rising crime and a lack of public faith in the police she has come out all guns blazing.
    • Workers set up roadblocks in order to prevent the police from entering the industrial facility again.
    police force, police officers, policemen, policewomen, officers of the law, law officers, authorities, constabulary; border patrol
    informal cops, fuzz, law, long arm of the law, boys/men in blue, coppers, force, heat
  • 1.1Members of a police force: there are fewer women police than men
    More example sentences
    • North Shore Rescue and the Cypress Bowl Ski Patrol members helped police recover the body.
    • After his arrest, he was questioned by local police and also members of Scotland Yard.
    • In the Boland town of Paarl two Samwu members were injured when police opened fire on a group of marchers.
  • 1.2 [with modifier] An organization engaged in the enforcement of official regulations in a specified domain: transit police figurative humorous the fashion police
    More example sentences
    • Metro police and emergency services officials will also be deployed along the route during the event.
    • There is a strong nexus between the railway officials, the railway police and the fraudster.
    • Armed anti-terrorist police swooped on a Rochdale business to arrest a 30-year-old warehouse worker.


[with object] (often as noun policing) Back to top  
  • 1(Of a police force) have the duty of maintaining law and order in or for (an area or event).
    More example sentences
    • The £4 million expense of policing the event, which included heavy police violence against protesters, was also borne by the taxpayer.
    • All of the West Yorkshire and British Transport Police officers who policed the riots have been jointly nominated as the country's bravest officers.
    • Whilst its economic importance and political sensitivity would ensure the event was highly policed, the use of anti-terror measures against protesters seems to be more of a case of testing the water for future use.
    guard, watch over, protect, defend, patrol; control, regulate
  • 1.1Enforce regulations or an agreement in (a particular area or domain): a UN resolution to use military force to police the no-fly zone
    More example sentences
    • What we need now is the will to regulate and police industry in favour of worker and consumer health.
    • Many are trying to regulate this and are using monitoring technology to police it.
    • A Paris-based media rights group yesterday slammed new Chinese regulations aimed at policing the Internet.
  • 1.2Enforce the provisions of (a law, agreement, or treaty): the regulations will be policed by factory inspectors
    More example sentences
    • The International Atomic Energy Agency, which polices the Non-Proliferation Treaty, has just returned from its annual inspection of Iraq.
    • But there they are, knowing full well that there has to be somebody who is policing the law.
    • I think there are enough challenges in trying to police the laws we have.
    enforce, regulate, oversee, supervise, monitor, observe, check
  • 1.3Maintain order and neatness in (an area, as a military camp).


late 15th century (in the sense 'public order'): from French, from medieval Latin politia 'citizenship, government' (see policy1). Current senses date from the early 19th century.

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