verb \pə-ˈlēs\

: to control and keep order in (an area) by the use of police or military forces

: to control (something) by making sure that rules and regulations are being followed


Full Definition of POLICE

transitive verb
archaic :  govern
:  to control, regulate, or keep in order by use of police
:  to make clean and put in order
a :  to supervise the operation, execution, or administration of to prevent or detect and prosecute violations of rules and regulations
b :  to exercise such supervision over the policies and activities of
:  to perform the functions of a police force in or over

Examples of POLICE

  1. The officers police the streets for reckless drivers.
  2. The coast is policed by the military.
  3. The international agency polices the development of atomic energy facilities.

Origin of POLICE

in sense 1, from Middle French policier, from police conduct of public affairs; in other senses, from 2police
First Known Use: 1589


noun, often attributive

: the people or the department of people who enforce laws, investigate crimes, and make arrests

plural police

Full Definition of POLICE

a :  the internal organization or regulation of a political unit through exercise of governmental powers especially with respect to general comfort, health, morals, safety, or prosperity
b :  control and regulation of affairs affecting the general order and welfare of any unit or area
c :  the system of laws for effecting such control
a :  the department of government concerned primarily with maintenance of public order, safety, and health and enforcement of laws and possessing executive, judicial, and legislative powers
b :  the department of government charged with prevention, detection, and prosecution of public nuisances and crimes
a :  police force
b plural :  police officers
a :  a private organization resembling a police force <campus police>
b plural :  the members of a private police organization
a :  the action or process of cleaning and putting in order
b :  military personnel detailed to perform this function
:  one attempting to regulate or censor a specified field or activity <the fashion police>

Examples of POLICE

  1. Police arrested a man whom they identified as the murderer.
  2. <the appearance of a ransom note meant that the teenager's disappearance was now a matter for the police>

Origin of POLICE

French, from Old French, from Late Latin politia government, administration, from Greek politeia, from politēs citizen, from polis city, state; akin to Sanskrit pur rampart, Lithuanian pilis castle
First Known Use: 1716

Related to POLICE

Other Legal Terms

actionable, alienable, carceral, chattel, complicity, decedent, larceny, malfeasance, modus operandi


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Body of agents organized to maintain civil order and public safety, enforce the law, and investigate crime. Characteristics common to most police forces include a quasi-military organization, a uniformed patrol and traffic-control force, plainclothes divisions for criminal investigations, and a set of enforcement priorities that reflects the community's way of life. Administration may be centralized at the national level downward, or decentralized, with local police forces largely autonomous. Recruits usually receive specialized training and take an exam. The modern metropolitan police force began with Sir Robert Peel in Britain c. 1829. Secret police are often separate, clandestine organizations established by national governments to maintain political and social orthodoxy, which typically operate with little or no restraint.


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