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verb po·lice \pə-ˈlēs\

Simple Definition of police

  • : 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


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 archaic :  govern

  3. 2 :  to control, regulate, or keep in order by use of police

  4. 3 :  to make clean and put in order

  5. 4 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

  6. 5 :  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 po·lice

Simple Definition of police

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

Full Definition of police

plural police

  1. 1 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

  2. 2 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

  3. 3 a :  police force b plural :  police officers

  4. 4 a :  a private organization resembling a police force <campus police> b plural :  the members of a private police organization

  5. 5 a :  the action or process of cleaning and putting in order b :  military personnel detailed to perform this function

  6. 6 :  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

Seen and Heard

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February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

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