Definition of police in English:

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Pronunciation: /pəˈliːs/


[treated as plural] (usually the police)
1The civil force of a state, responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order: local people have lost faith in the police [as modifier]: the coroner will await the outcome of police inquiries
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, the forces of law and order, law enforcement officers, law enforcement agency;
British  constabulary;
Scottish & Irish  polis;
French gendarmerie;
German Polizei;
Italian carabinieri
historical watch
informal the cops, the fuzz, the law, the Man, the boys in blue, the long arm of the law
British informal the (Old) Bill
coppers, rozzers, bobbies, busies, bizzies, the force, plod, PC Plod
North American informal the heat, …'s finest
informal, derogatory pigs, the filth, Babylon
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 adjective or noun modifier] An organization engaged in the enforcement of official regulations in a specified domain: transport 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]
1(Of a police force) have the duty of maintaining law and order in or at (an area or event): (as noun policing) a ten-point plan to improve policing
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.
maintain law and order in, keep the peace in, keep guard over, keep watch on, watch over, guard, protect, defend, patrol, make the rounds of
control, keep in order, keep under 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, implement, oversee, check (up on), supervise, monitor, observe, watch


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.

  • In the 15th century police, which came from medieval Latin politia ‘citizenship, government’, was another word for policy, from the same source. Over time the word came to mean ‘civil administration’ and then ‘maintenance of public order’. The first people to be called police in the current sense was the Marine Police, a force set up around 1798 to protect merchant shipping in the Port of London. The police force established for London in 1829 was for some time known as the New Police. See also constable, copper. Latin politia had been borrowed from Greek polis ‘city, state’, also found in metropolis (Late Middle English) ‘mother city’ in Greek; acropolis (mid 17th century)‘high city’; cosmopolitan (mid 17th century) from kosmos, ‘world’; and politics. We have the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle to thank for politics. Aristotle, a pupil of Plato and tutor to Alexander the Great, wrote a treatise called ta politika, or ‘The Affairs of State’, which gave us our word. The concept of political correctness originated in the USA during the 1980s but the expression dates back a lot longer. It is recorded in 1840 in the USA, and politically correct goes back even further, to 1793, in the records of the US Supreme Court. Originally both terms referred to people conforming to the prevailing political views of the time.

Words that rhyme with police

anis, apiece, Berenice, caprice, cassis, cease, coulisse, crease, Dumfries, fils, fleece, geese, grease, Greece, kris, lease, Lucrece, MacNeice, Matisse, McAleese, Nice, niece, obese, peace, pelisse, Rees, Rhys, set piece, sublease, surcease, two-piece, underlease

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: po¦lice

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